Friday 16 March 2012

MiTEx 1, AEHF 1 and Prowler

Weather conditions have not been too well lately. In the evening of March 14, I could do some imaging from Leiden, albeit under hazy skies. The relatively bright geostationary SIGINT Mentor 2 (98-029A) was the target.

In addition, I used a "remote" telescope, the 37-cm F14 Rigel Cassegrain of Winer Observatory (MPC 587) to image a few geostationary objects over US longitudes. Targets were (below images from top to bottom) the communication satellite AEHF 1 (10-039A), and the enigmatic objects MiTEx 1 (06-024A) and Prowler (90-097A).

click image to enlarge

AEHF 1 (aka USA 214) is the first of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency communication satellites that should replace the Milstar system. Because one of its onboard rocket boosters failed, the satellite had to be brought from GTO to its geostationary destination using smaller thrusters designed for station keeping, a procedure which took over a year.

This was the first time I imaged AEHF 1.

Prowler and MiTEx 1 are both enigmatic objects. Prowler's unique story has been discussed here before. MiTEx 1 (USA 187)  is an enigmatic object that has some connection to the Prowler legacy. Like Prowler presumably was, it was designed to inspect other satellites. Two MiTEx satellites were launched (in the same launch in 2006), MiTEx 1 and 2. They were used to inspect, amongst others, the failed DSP satellite DSP-23 in 2009. I imaged MiTEx 2 before, this was the first time I also imaged MiTEx 1.

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