Saturday, 2 April 2011

Lacrosse 2 is no more.....

A number of non-detections over the past week have confirmed that the classified US SAR satellite Lacrosse 2 (91-017A), the oldest of the still orbiting Lacrosses, has been de-orbited on or around March 26th.

The first to note Lacrosse 2 absent was Russell Eberst in Edinburgh on March 30th - incidently, the very person who also saw it first in March 1991.

This prompted a watch by other observers, including me, who all confirmed the "no-show" of Lacrosse 2.

In the evening of April 1st, I conducted a photographic watch between 19:44:00 and 19:53:00 UTC, keeping continuous coverage of a 18 x 24 degree FOV centered on the nominal position predicted for the satellite for 19:47:30 UTC. Nothing was recorded (another Lacrosse, Lacrosse 4 (00-047A) was recorded in the images when it passed through the same area at about 19:46 UTC).

As it now transpires, probably the last person to see Lacrosse 2 alive was Pierre Neirinck in France at March 25th, 20:19 UTC. Another observer failed to see it on March 26th: quite likely, it was de-orbited only a few hours and orbits after Pierre's observation.

Launched on March 8th, 1991, Lacrosse 2 has been operational for almost exactly 20 years: a long period of active service indeed.

Below are a number of archive images of Lacrosse 2 taken by me in 2008 and 2010. Goodbye, Lacrosse 2, you always were such a nice bright satellite to track.....

click images to enlarge

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