RE: Stealthy Satellites?

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sun Sep 12 2004 - 14:53:42 EDT

  • Next message: Russell Eberst: "SEP12-13.OBS"

    Rainer Kresken wrote:
    > I have a question: Is it possible that there are stealthy,
    > invisible satellites out there? A Satellite hiding behind a 
    > clever structure of reflective surfaces  
    > should be invisible to optical detectors (including us 
    > seesaters)AND Radar. 
    > I am thinking of an apex-down acute pyramid or tetrahedron.  
    > Could this work? Are there indications that such satellites exist?
    The U.S. has launched at least one such satellite:
    USA 53 (Misty)  18.0  4.0  0.0  1.5 v
    1 20516U 90019B   90299.82375579  .00000277  00000-0  11483-3 0    07
    2 20516  65.0194 222.4319 0016320 301.3908  58.5348 14.26287908    00
    Russell Eberst, Daniel Karcher and Pierre Neirinck discovered it in the above
    orbit in 1990 October, as a bright unknown, which I identified through
    correlation with its parking orbit of early 1990 March. Its ground track nearly
    repeated every 9 days.
    Early in 1990 November, it manoeuvred to the orbit below, observed by Russell
    Eberst three times during 1996-97, as a faint unknown, which I identified
    through correlation with its previous orbit.
    1 20516U 90019B   97284.23458324  .00000027  00000-0  70436-5 0    01
    2 20516  66.1631  65.2852 0005248 187.8717 231.2307 14.48751217    03
    It manoeuvred to this lower orbit to create a 3 day repeating ground track. I
    speculate that the 1.2 deg increase in inclination was to compensate for the
    lower altitude, to maintain the southernmost island of Novaya Zemlya (located in
    the Arctic Ocean, north of the Russian mainland) within its off-nadir imaging
    limits. Probably, it has been de-orbited.
    I strongly suspect that USA 144 (99028A / 25744) is Misty 2, most likely in an
    orbit similar to the above.
    The object that we continue to call 99028A has the characteristics of debris,
    and I suspect it to be a decoy, as I discussed a couple of years ago:
    More about Misty:
    Ted Molczan
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