AMSAT-NA Spy Satellite Info

Several people emailed me asking for more info on the spy sats I mentioned in my message on observing Mir. I don't know too much about them myself, except that I saw what I think was one of them once several years ago and the reason I think it was a spy sat is because it was so incredibly bright and fast moving. No idea which it was, though, because I didn't have access to orbital elements for any recon birds then.

Now, everybody does. Just grab the file

Unzip it and feed the file into any tracking program that can handle 2-line elements.

The only spy sats I know by name are the Lacrosse series - scan for them and you'll find several listed. They are reputed to be very bright and to have a distinct red color when observed visually. Gold plating? Who knows.

By the way, Ted Molczan, the Canadian Space Society, and a band of hardy observers around the world hunt these spy sats down visually, calculate their orbits from their observations and generate these orbital elements themselves. Quite a group!!

Dave, N9LTD

Feedback on this page to KB5MU. Thanks to Dave Mullenix, N9LTD, for permission to post his message here in 1995. Link to elements for classified satellites updated January 26, 2000; and again September 29, 2003; and again August 16, 2007.