IRCB S73-7 satellite found after being off track for 25 years


When the United States launched the KH-9 Hexagon spy satellite into orbit with a Titan IIID rocket in 1974, it brought a calibration target along for the ride: Infra-Red Calibration Balloon (IRCB) S73-7. This 66 cm (26 in) diameter inflatable satellite was ejected by KH-9, but it failed to inflate to its intended configuration and became another piece of space junk. It was initially tracked in the 1970s, but disappeared until reappearing sometime in the 1990s. Now it has resurfaced after twenty-five years.

As Viewed by [Jonathan McDowell] As for what snuck up on S73-7 in the recent debris tracking data, it is quite possible that it has been tracked before, but is hidden in the noise because it is not an easy target to track. Since it is not a large metal object with a large radar cross-section, it is one of the more difficult signals to reliably pick out from the noise. as can be seen [Jonathan]In the debris tracking table, this is hardly a unique situation, with many lost (XO) entries. This always raises the exciting question of whether a piece of debris has lost its orbit where it burns up, collides with other debris/functioning satellite or simply goes dark.

Right now we know where S73-7 is, and as long as its orbit remains stable we can guess where it will be, but it highlights the difficulty of tracking nearly 20,000 objects in Earth's orbit, if we If found, there will be disastrous consequences. This is wrong.




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