Thursday, April 09, 2015

Chasing USA 186

After Greg did the last observations from the southern hemisphere mid-February, the northern hemisphere observers recovered the KH-11 CRYSTAL ('Keyhole') optical reconnaissance satellite  USA 186 (2015-042A) late March. Alberto Rango captured it on March 30 from Italy and several observers have followed since. I observed it on April 6 in early twilight. Below is one of the images, showing it passing west of Castor and Pollux in a still blue twilight sky:




The current elements are here. USA 186 is currently moving in a 269 x 467 km orbit.

Next is the hunt for USA 245, the other West (evening) plane KH-11 that should emerge out of its winter shadow blackout by now. The East plane KH's, USA 161 and USA 224 will not be recoverable until early summer.

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