Stray Signals

Why is there so much TLE difficulty when new Cubesats are launched?

Every time a CubeSat gets launched, there is some difficulty on what TLEs should be used.   This is a outcome of a routine of rising a new amateur CubeSat with other CubeSats, mostly several dozen during a time.  We afterwards start the  routine of last that intent in a “flock” of CubeSats  is compared with a sold spacecraft.

Pre-launch TLEs, that is calculation formed on a approaching orbit, are customarily granted by a launch provider. Pre-launch TLEs are used until post-launch TLEs (for a organisation of objects that your satellite is in) are expelled from a US Department of Defense Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) formed on observations done with cameras and radars.

There is a a 5 to 10 day duration of tracking a organisation of CubeSats until they apart adequate to besiege a one of interest. By watching a Doppler change on transmissions from a sold satellite opposite a distributed Doppler change from all candidate intent TLEs, we can definitely associate an intent with a sold satellite. In a box of AMSAT satellites, we afterwards advise JSpOC that intent series is “ours”

Finally, an particular satellite and a compared TLEs are dynamic and we settle down to an single, accurate, arguable set of TLEs … and all a other “best guesses” go away, nonetheless they might be still floating around on a Internet. But, there are so many variables  – did we launch on time, did we get expelled on time, has a organisation your CubeSat is in distant adequate to brand your satellite, etc. that a routine that can be both treacherous and irritating during a same time.

AMSAT strives to minimize difficulty when distributing TLEs.  Dummy intent numbers are used for pre-launch TLEs given final intent numbers can't be reserved yet.    Immediately post launch we might post candidate objects with general names like “OBJECT C”.    Finally, when certain organisation between an intent series and a booster is made, we will use a common name of a satellite.   We always suggest regulating TLEs from a Keps mailing list or a stream circular or unclothed elements from a AMSAT web site.


by Ray Hoad
Orbital Elements Manager



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