Re: Paleo-SeeSaters (or: Sputnik-1 elset req.)

Philip Chien (
Sun, 7 Sep 1997 23:42:19 -0400

>>I'm trying to find the TLE's for the Sputnik 1 (or an approximation)
>>during its first orbits.

Eberst <> said:

>It is unlikely that it would have been seen by the unaided eye. However it was
>accompanied into orbit by its last stage rocket - quoted as being 28 metres
>long, which would have been very visible to the naked eye, and is
>therefore a likely candidate for what the public remember as having seen.

I'll certainly agree with that.  The excellent reference "The Satellite
Experimenter's Handbook" has a description of determining the actual launch
time based on reported observations around the world and the known orbital

The Soviets didn't want to give out a launch time because it could be used
to determine the location of the launch pad - then a very top-secret
location.  And the U.S. wouldn't give out a launch time because how much
that differed from the actual time would indicate the accuracy of the U.S.
tracking capabilities.

The handbook gives the following pieces of revelant data:

Inclination - approximatly 65
Period - 96 minutes 10 seconds

Longitude increment 24 West per orbit

Perigee 170 km

Apogee 990 km.

Launch site - 45 d 55.3' N latitude, 63 d 20.5'E longitude.

The reference other than the launch site location is G.C. Sponsler
"Sputniks over Britian" Physics Today, VOl 11, no. 7, pp 16-21, 1958.

The actual launch time from Soviet sources was 19:28:04 UTC.

Many ham radio operators around the world monitored the 20.007 Mhz. beacon.
Roy Welch W0SL kept his recordings and recently digitized them in Real
Audio and .WAV formats.  Check out the web page -

to hear a 40-year-old recording of the transmissions of the very first
artificial satellite.

Philip Chien [M1959.05.31/31.145//]