apologies for the delay in replying to your e-mail but I have come
up with something which might be useful.
relocating last October and having the final boxes of reports and
other archive material delivered here two months ago, I am slowly
getting everything unpacked and sorted. And this afternoon I found
something interesting. Amongst a pile of reports which I received
from the former Royal Aircraft Establishment when they were having
to find a home for a pile of their material (including their paper
orbital data archives!) was a Project Space Track report AFCRC-TN-58-445
"The Orbital Motion of the Earth Satellite 1957-Beta from 1 April
1958 to Its Decay 14 April 1958".
the title might not sound too promising, Appendix 1 is "Notes on the
Decay of Satellite 1957-Alpha-1". The Appendix contains two reports,
as follows: 4 December 1957 "Post Analysis At Project Harvest Moon
of the Last Orbital Data on Sputnik One Rocket."
Bank data on orbits 869 hrough 872 revealed orbit mean period 88.5
minutes. This period extrapolated through orbit 879 passage at Stanford
Research Institute (SRI) would provide passage time of 0014:42Z. Actual
passage time at SRI was 0011:35Z, showing a mean decrease in orbit
period. Calculation based on Milstone passage orbits 876 and 877 to
SRI passage 879 gives a period slightly below 88.0 miutes. Observations
indicate actual period at Standford slightly less than 87.9 minutes
rapidly decreasing. Life expectancy calculated by Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory using Air Research and Development Command air density
tables was 3.13 hours after Stanford passage, probably terminating
on orbit 882. Based on the period derived from last two observed passages
the predicted time of passage of the rocket body over the region of
alleged sightings in Alaska, was eight minutes after the time of the
sightings. This rules out evidence of reported fall in Alaska.
on confirming directly with observers, the Alaskan Geophysical Institute
firmly reported phenomenon observed in Alaska was 5 seconds duration
and was definitely a meteor. The report from Fairbanks was finally
defined as of 4 seconds duration and as the same phenomenon. At time
of meteor observations in Alaska, most probable location of rocket
body was far inland over Eastern Siberia in orbit which would carry
it over Bering Sea west of Alaskan mainland. 10 December 1957 "Note
on Map Showing last Observed Orbits of Sputnik One Rocket" [Note -
I do not have a scanner so cannot include a copy of the map !]
orbits of the Sputnik One Rocket observed in the U.S. were observed
by radars located near Bedford, Massachusetts (orbit no. 877) and
Stanford, California (orbit no. 879) as shown on the attached map.
Near Stanford the object was seen both by radar and visually, appearing
as a bright object, on 1 December 1957, at 0011Z (11 minutes after
midnight, Greenwich Mean Time). The rocket's next pass would be in
an orbit further westwards, over the vicinity of Irkutsk in Siberia,
the Bering Sea and then over the Pacific Ocean, parallel to the West
Coast of North America, as shown by orbit no. 880 on the map.
news release has stated that the rocket began to descend into the
dense layers of the atmosphere on 1 December on an orbit passing over
the Irkutsk area. This agrees closely with orbit no. 880, and may
be identified with it. If the rocket had still been in the air after
leaving Soviet territory on this orbit, it would have passed west
of the mainland of Alaska, and remained well out over the Pacific
as it went southward toward Cape Horn. If it had remained aloft, its
subsequent passages would have taken it even further westward over
the Pacific. As the map clearly shows, 1 December sightings of bright
falling objects, one in Central Alaska (0120Z) and one in southern
California (0307Z) could not be associated with the rocket, but must
be regarded as meteor observations. I assume that these reports, contained
in a purely scientific document, would not be the kind of things which
would be picked up by a casual writer and certainly not anyone in
the journalist trade ! They are reproduced word-for-word from the
original document which I have and although they do not refer to any
Khrushchev claims, they are reporting a Rusian decay announcement
which fits well with the US predictions. Unfortnately, I do not have
any further information concerning the decay of the Sputnik 1 rocket.
However, the various documents that I have unearthed include all of
the timed observations of 1957-alpha 1, 2 and 3 and 1957-beta, so
I guess that I should get the data scanned, write an approriate piece
of software and then start generating the orbits as they evolved.
A long-term project, I believe.
Close Hastings E Sussex TN34 1XG U.K.
Worldwide Satellite Launches
in "space archeology" - the older and more obscure the more interesting
it is !