Edward S Light (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 07:32:20 -0400 (EDT)

Recently (in the context of standardizing reports of Iridium flashes), the
issue of COSPAR vs NORAD satellite IDs has again arisen. Being from the USA,
I "naturally" tend to favor the NORAD identifiers, but besides any national-
istic reasons, as a computer programmer, I prefer the NORAD numbers which,
after all, are always five digits long (at least for the foreseeable future).

I admit that the COSPAR identifiers do convey much useful information (such
as the approximate launch date and nature of the object) but over the years
I have yet to see any standardized format for these. 

As examples, I've seen Vanguard 1's COSPAR ID given as 58-Beta-1, 58-B1,
58-002A etc..

And even in the post-Greek-letter era, would an object like, say, NORAD 24942
(a Pegasus debris) be 94-029ACE, or 94029ACE, etc.?

Is there a standard? YY-NNN-AAA  or  YY-NNNAAA or YYNNNAAA ? Or some other?

Just curious what the COSPAR-proponents have to say about this.

Clear and dark skies!
   Ed Light

Lakewood, NJ, USA
N 40.107, W 074.232, Hgt +21m