[amsat-bb] Source of AO-85/Fox-1 elements?

Paul Stoetzer n8hm at arrl.net
Sat Oct 7 00:33:38 UTC 2017

AMSAT pulls the keps from the Space-Track database. I believe the
policy for secondary payloads on classified missions allows only the
satellite owners or their designated representatives to do so. We can
then redistribute them ourselves.

Of course, this policy does not make much sense. Russia and China know
exactly where all of our classified satellites are. The only
consequence is that we're inconvenienced. My favorite iOS tracking app
pulls solely from Celestrak, so I have to use another app for NO-84
and AO-85.


Paul, N8HM

On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 8:22 PM, Phil Karn <karn at ka9q.net> wrote:
> What is the source of the AO-85/FOX-1 orbital elements I see through the
> usual channels? Kelso's Celestrak isn't carrying them. When I inquired,
> I learned that it's US policy not to release elements for any object
> associated with an NRO launch -- and AO-85 was launched with USA 264,
> 2015-058A, #40964.
> Kelso already asked for an exception but was denied. But NRO isn't doing
> a very good job of hiding our satellite, as current elements are readily
> available on the (German) Heavens-Above site:
> 1 40967U 15058D   17278.51421614  .00000880  00000-0  11831-3 0 01124
> 2 40967 064.7745 244.1947 0178987 037.6014 323.7456 14.75520632016072
> Even the *primary* (spook) payload USA264 also has current elements there:
> 1 40964U 15058A   17278.82038009 0.00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    00
> 2 40964  63.4416 239.2742 0066660 175.8104 184.1896 13.40733320    01
> though these probably came from the dedicated worldwide team of
> volunteer SEESAT observers that for decades has provided the dual public
> service of producing their own element sets for US spy satellites and
> making fools of the US spooks in the process.
> And a close comparison will show that USA264 and AO-85 aren't even in
> the same orbit, which makes the non-publication policy even sillier than
> it first appeared.
> "When everything is classified, nothing is classified..."
> --Phil
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