Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Introducing a new web resource: Launchtower

Before new launches, I frequently publish orbital element (TLE) estimates that can help satellite observers plan observations of the payload and/or associated rocket stage directly after launch.

Untill now, I published these pre-launch estimated TLE's on the SeeSat-L Mailing List and occasionally also on this blog. And I will keep doing that: but I realized that it would perhaps be good to have a central website for these pre-flight TLE's.

So I introduce to you: Launchtower (http://launchtower.langbroek.org).


The TLE estimates in question are based on public information about the launch site, launch date and launch time, and (if made public) the orbital altitude and orbital inclination aimed for.

For classified launches (where this information usually is not available), educated guesses are made based on amongst others information gleaned from NOTAM's and Navigational Warnings. These provide information on launch time windows, and the orbital inclination aimed for, which can often be deduced from the launch azimuth, which in turn can be deduced from the locations of the launch hazard areas and upper stage deorbit areas found in Navigational Warnings.

The website will provide TLE estimates for launches that are "of interest". The criteria for what comprises "of interest" are basically:  those launches that are of interest to me.

Generally speaking, these will be: classified launches; human spaceflight; and launches that overfly Europe on the initial revolution.

TLE's can be used to plot a sky track for your location, using predictive software like for example HeavenSat.

 
UPDATE:

On request, I have added a plain-text file URL as well, to which you can point software that can (stupidly) only load TLE's from plain text files on a web-adres. Link is on the main Launchtower page.

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