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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Dec > Dec 13

Re: Skylab 3

From: James Smith <lunartravel.nul>
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 15:57:33 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
Archived: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 04:06:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Skylab 3

>From: Brad Sparks <RB47x.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2007 02:10:14 EST
>Subject: Re: Skylab 3

>>From: James Smith <lunartravel.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 11:10:05 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
>>Subject: Re: Skylab 3

>Neither NORAD or NASA had any tracking projections of satellite
>objects in close encounters with Skylab 3. They had 14 years of
>orbital data and thus plenty of warning of any close approaches.
>It was not something launched just a day or two before Skylab's
>USO encounter on Sept 20, 1973.

>Why didn't
>NORAD track or project any close approaches to Skylab 3 with its
>COMBO computer program and formal agreement with NASA to predict
>and warn of all close approaches of satellites and space debris
>throughout every manned NASA space mission??

Is this definitive? Is there a report indicating this? I haven't
seen such reports. Do we have these for even ISS?

From the orbital elements lists one can deduce that they are
unable to associate unique objects to some radar data. So they
have to somehow associate successive orbits (when lucky enough
to pass thru the radar beam) of radar data to the same object
prior to generating definitive orbital elements for the object.

Of course, it is also possible the radar cannot lock on the
object for some reason (size/orientation) or it doesn't pass
thru the radar beam.

If they use simply the raw radar data and don't have to actually
identify the object, then they can propagate the objects orbit
using the X-Y-Z position and velocity. Thus, they may not have
publishable orbital elements, but can determine the possible
intersection of objects. Small objects may still be difficult to
handle or those in odd orbits.

>What software did you use and which NORAD Spacetrack elsets did
>you use? Which objects approached within 20 km of Skylab 3
>within the week before and after Sept 20 and for how long? 10
>minutes? If you have a list of such space objects and have the
>elsets we can tell how recent the elsets data were and get an
>idea how good the projected close approaches to Skylab 3. NORAD
>said there had been no close approach warnings to manned
>spacecraft as of 1973. A 12-mile close pass would be highly
>significant and potentially dangerous - because tracking and
>projection errors could mean the real distance was 0-km

I don't remember any collision avoidance ability for Skylab. I
found one report that states Skylab didn't need it, but no other


"...and an active orbit collision prediction and avoidance
capability does not appear justified at this time - especially
in view of the rather low probability of a collision." It also

"The future position of a piece of debris that is tracked
intensively is accurate to about one kilometer for reasonable
prediction times." (about 4 orbits).

Using Satellite Took Kit and the Space Track orbital elements,
4032 objects were in orbit/tracked during the Sept 1973 time
period. Of these, 2621 had orbital elements during the Sept
1973 time period. The rest (1411) had no orbital elements for
whatever reason. Raw radar data could have been used way back
when to make the orbit propagation, but no orbital elements with
a unique name could be generated.

Out of the 2621, 268 come within 100 km of Skylab during Sept
1973. Out of these 268, 17 have a pass duration of greater than
1 minute and 4 have a pass duration of greater than 5 minutes.

These are:

#6637/Skylab Fairing (18 elements):
Sept9, duration=9 min...Min range=63km
Sept9, 11 min...13km
Sept 9, 9 min...62km
#6642/SAS-2:Solar Array Assembly wing part (16 elements) :
Sept4, 9 min...93km
Sept4, 24 min...31km
Sept 4, 33 min...27km
Sept 4, 17 min... 77km
Sept 4, 22 min...63km
Sept 26, 13 min...45km
Sept 26, 12 min...52km
#6643/Solar Array Assembly debris (15 elements) :
Sept11:twice, 10 min...34km
#6644/Solar Array Assembly debris (12 elements) :
Sept3, 7 min...53km
Sept11, 6 min...56km
Sept 17, 5 min...57km

Skylab itself had 6 elements over the month. I think that one
needs elements for at least every other day over the month (~15
elements) for most smaller objects. Even Skylab needs more than

Out of the 268, regarding close proximity <20km range, there
were 30 events and 23 objects with the closest ones at 3km.
 None were on Sept 20

#2897 (7 elements) was at a range of 3km on Sept16
#6733 (17 elements) was at a range of 3km on Sept23
#6645 (22 elements) was at a range of 4km on Sept19
#1823 (16 elements) was at a range of 4km on Sept16
#6794 (19 elements) was at a range of 5km on Sept26
#4242 (14 elements) was at a range of 5km on Sept13
#2800 (10 elements) was at a range of 7km on Sept28
#6806 (41 elements) was at a range of 7km on Sept4/7
#3861 (18 elements) was at a range of 6km on Sept3
#2931 (19 elements) was at a range of 9km on Sept30
#6781 (16 elements) was at a range of 9km on Sept11

If NORAD was doing COMBO runs for Skylab then their estimates
should have been good even with those old computers since they
had raw data to make propagations. Present day models could be
somewhat better as the technology improved since the '70s, but
even so, NORAD should have better predictions that what we try
to do using relatively infrequent orbital elements. Another
reason no public flags were raised on the above possible close
approaches is that perhaps their collision warning distance was
lower than 3 km, thus no alarms were given..

With 1411 objects without orbital elements and particularly with
three Skylab debris/jettisoned objects with no orbital elements
for September 1973, we can never say for certain there was no
orbital debris/satellite that passed close by Skylab on Sept 20.
 This is especially true for non-trackable items (non metallic
trash bags). NORAD is unlikely to provide access to raw data,
even old data. However, the data does show it is possible to
have close passes and long durations, particularly for Skylab-
related objects.

I find is curious that NORAD never lists and captured meteors or
other natural rocks. Are there really none?

The Skylab objects without useful orbital elements are:

6704,1973-027N,"SAS/EVA debris"; which had good orbital elements
until Aug 24, 1973, then was apparently "lost" until Jan 4 1974
and resumed good orbital elements and they predicted re-entry on
4-13-74. 6705,1973-027P,"SAS/EVA debris"; which had good orbital
elements until Sep4,1973 then was "lost" yet they predicted
reentry on 2-24-74. 6774,1973-027V,"S-063 camera/experiment";
which had only two orbital elements (Aug 7 and 16, 1973) yet
they predicted re-entry on Sept 20, 1973.

It is possible these are small objects, although the last one
seems large enough to need to be jettisoned from the scientific

I hope this helps answer your queries. If you need more data let
me know.

>>There is a possibility that this
>>particular object is low enough in altitude to get heated up and
>>glow red. Therefore, it could be self illuminated via heat
>>radiation. This could not explain why the object got dark upon
>>entering shadow unless there is fortuitous timing of the
>>object's disintegration. Another possibility is that it is
>>heating up and giving off gases/particles that catch the sun-
>>light, increasing its effective size. Then fade out would match
>>going in shadow.

>Do you see any earth background in the Skylab red object photos?
>Any trace of the earth's limb anywhere?? A re-entry occurs at
>about 60-100 miles, far far below the Skylab at 273 miles

Another thing I thought of was that apogee (high point in the
orbit) and perigee (low point) would not be equal for an object
just prior to re-entry. So, the object could get heated up to
glowing at a lower altitude during perigee and then be at or
above the Skylab apogee. Then it just has to glow until it
comes into range at the higher apogee. Keeping a glow for an
hour seems far fetched.

Based on your updated SL3 web page, I want to re-emphasize the
conflict of dates of the laser experiment photos. The mission
report for Skylab 3...


shows on page 5-3 that the dates of the laser photos are Sept 19
(good ones) and Sept 20 (blurred ones). This conflicts with the
laser experiment report which states the images were from Sept
4. This is pretty important since on Sept 4 we had some fairly
long duration "close" passes. I think the Skylab transcripts
could help pinpoint/ confirm the times/days.

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