Member Commentary

Russian Rocket Rentry? Well, Think Again!

Robert Selover writes:

Greetings, my friends:

Well, pardners, - if y'all will kindly either go to Jeff Rense's site (Sightings) and check out the Update: Major UFO Event of 9-1-99 Said To Be Space Junk article - which refers to the sightings/call-ins on the Art Bell program - or else refer to same as provided in the latter part of this message, you'll quickly see just how an investigation of alleged UFOs can be so easily, so authoritatively be accomplished. Just shows to go you how efficiently, how thoroughly a State Director for a UFO organization can come up with the irrefutable facts of the matter with just a couple of phone calls to the right people.

Except ...

Hmmmm ... let's see, according to the good Major Nouis of NORAD (as reported by Gerry Rowles in his E-mail to Sightings), this was nothing more than "a center motor part from a Russian SL 12 rocket launched 28 Feb 99" and even had a NORAD "catalog item number 25761". So, obviously, NORAD - as apparently represented by Maj. Nouis - knew exactly what the "object" up in the sky was ... and. by inference, those poor people actually out there watching this simply, obviously, didn't know what the heck they were seeing much less talking about Sorry, that's all it was - just a plain ol' "center part of a rocket motor" ...I mean, "The Man" told us, right?

On the (I suspect erroneous) assumption, for a moment, that the good Major was correct, I don't know about the rest of the people living in the California or Nevada or Utah areas feel about this but for my part, I find it absolutely inhumane for a revered, highly respected, font of loving concern - I mean the United States Air force here, the "good guys" who are going to "own the weather by 2025" - would KNOW that something as large as a center motor part (which, just based on a totally uneducated guess would, by definition alone, most likely have to have been the turbine assembly weighing in around a couple thousand pounds, mas o meno), with it's probable - or at least visually comparative - temperature glowing up around 2200 deg. F was possibly going to "impact" (god, I love that minimalist expression) somewhere around the Nevada/Utah border AND NOBODY SAID A G.. D..... WORD ABOUT IT TO ANYBODY???? REALLY??? A "nonevent" of no real importance - right?

I mean a department of our beloved, responsible, trusted government knowing with almost certainty that something as potentially lethal as a white hot mass weighing up around a ton or so most likely plowing into U.S. mainland territory and possibly killing some taxpayers and/or their children along with possible massive property damage (like if it "touched down" in a major city, maybe?) - and nobody in that beloved, most trustworthy, never-tell-a-lie (unless it's convenient) government has even a scintilla of humanitarian concern for the possible loss of life and/or property to the point where everyone involved just takes a simpleton's "Oh, well!" attitude? ... sort of a Freddie Prinz "That no my yob, mon!" approach to the whole potential disaster.

On the other hand, if the USAF did make this known to other sectors of government, where was the (in)famous FEMA? After all, here would have been a golden opportunity for them to get in a little "field practice", take things over, boss people around, have a grand time just trampling over anything or anybody in their way in the name of emergency management, to grandstand and come out of "it" as potential "heroes" ... and they, assuming somebody would have told them "hey, we got a chunk of a Russian rocket that our calculations show might be coming down somewhere in Nevada or Utah that's gonna do a little damage and you guys probably oughta get in a "ready mode" - didn't even bother, at the very minimum, to at least let some civilian agencies (like police and fire and medical units in the possible/probable impact areas, for example) know that "something evil your way comes - at least it looks like it might".

Then there's the matter of NORAD's "catalog number 25761". Now I have a dandy (and registered) little DOS program (which'll run in DOS mode under Win 95/98) called STS Plus. This is a program devised and written by a gummint employee - back before there was "Windows," when DOS and the 286 were kings - which is updated CONTINUALLY and which is used to visually track various satellites and/or space debris floating around in what has become our "junkyard in the sky." This is THE program used by governmental agencies around the world, including our own, to keep an informed eye on where all that stuff is.

So, since the latest version I had on my old 486 and is a couple of years old, I downloaded a nice fresh up-to-date version (Aug 99) onto my lovely new puter and have dropped the registration fee in the mail (I play by the rules on software)..

Among other things, this neat program has a feature whereby you can select an orbit-in-progress that you want to look at from a TLE (two-line element) text file that comes with it. A couple of neat features of this TLE listing is that stuff floating around "out there" appears to be listed in descending NORAD catalog number, the corresponding formal "name" designation of the object is shown and, of all things, it also shows a corresponding International Designation number ... a straightforward numeric-alpha number which clearly indicates the original year of cataloging and sequence within that year.

Know what? ... I downloaded the latest, official TLE listing from the "" website, un-Zipped it, brought it up in Wordpad, paged down several times and shortly came down to two NORAD catalog numbers, 25758 (that's 3 less than 25761) for TUBSAT C whatever that is and 25769 (that's 8 more than 25761) for StarShine - again, whatever that one is. But, alas and alack, ain't no 25761 listed or named ... I mean, that IS the one the USAF ossifer gave to the guy who sent in the posting to Sightings (aka the guy who gave a little "fatherly" lecture to Art Bell) - isn't it?

As mentioned, this program has a feature whereby you can specify - by referencing the TLE listing which is arranged in NORAD catalog item number sequence - just which object you want to see depicted against the lovely (slowly) rotating earth/globe. So, even though I failed to find a listing for pieces of SL 12 by the NORAD catalog number quoted in the Sightings articles, I brought up that part of the program that lets you type in either the NORAD number or the item's name and I typed in it's number, "25761" - the very same number the helpful USAF ossifer gave to the guy who put out the debunk in the first place. You probably guessed it ... NO 25761.

But, not to be deterred, and back in Wordpad, I kept paging down and keeping track of how many times "SL-12 R/B (2)" was listed - 113 times! Meaning, I guess, that 113 separate chunks of this Russian rocket booster either will float out there for eternity will eventually come to earth or be vaporized in the effort anyway. BUT, the latest appearance of any chunk of SL-12 - on the JPL/NASA listing -showed up as NORAD catalog number 25645, NOT 25761.

Then we come to the matter of the International Designation Number (IDN) - a straightforward nine-character numeric-alpha number - assigned to a specific rocket/booster/shuttle/whatever.. For example, SL-12's IDN is 1996-053D. Remember how ossifer Nouis stated - and Mr. Rowles reported - that this SL-12 was launched "28 Feb 99"??? Well, if you look at SL-12's IDN again, you'll quickly see it's year designation is 1996 - that's a "6," as in 1996, NOT a "9" as in 1999.

Given that SL-12 was first cataloged by NORAD in 1996 - and this is just my "feeling" only - it would seem kind of doubtful that the SL-12 would get it's IDN back in 1996 and then lay around for nearly four years before being ostensibly launched this past February - especially when considering that Russia is and has been on it's financial knees for the past couple of years to the point where they've been running 6 months in arrears in paying their army's noncommissioned personnel and the country, in general, is simply coming apart - I just doubt that they'd be blowing millions of rubles they don't have on launching a nearly four-year-old rocket.

Lastly, again back in Wordpad with the JPL/NASA TLE listing, I kept paging down and counting SL-12 entries clear down to the appearance of the very first one, which was assigned NORAD number 11567 at that time ... back in 1996, of course. Ain't that a bugger!

It sure do seem like things aren't matching up too well for the USAF's "public information" department.

Well, that's gotten me irritated enough. Let's move on to another aspect of the story that's almost as improbable - and, folks, I'm no rocket scientist - not even a mechanical engineer, much less a physicist - just a retired guy with a little technical, how-things-work knowledge - okay?

Let's back up for a moment and temporarily assume it was a turbine assembly (that's about the only thing that would fit Maj. Nouis' description of a "center motor part") from a Russian rocket.

Actual, live - as in "I was there watching all this visual/audible stuff happening" - witnesses report seeing a cluster of 7 objects and (seemingly reported by somebody else, I guess) another huge object that split into 3 parts with glowing streaks behind them.

Well, let's see. Assume - and this will be stretching the use of that word, trust me - that this "center motor part" (complete with NORAD catalog number!), as a possibly natural result of being heated to the melting point by air friction during it's ongoing reentry process, did actually come apart into 7 pieces ... like Judy Tenuta used to say, "It could happen!".

For these 7 pieces to all wind up being just about the same size (well, producing the same-sized fireballs anyway) is just stretching things a little because that would HAVE to imply that this big flaming assembly (the turbine) subsequently MELTED into seven separate chunks. (I don't think there are seven major, equally sized chunks in a rocket turbine assembly to begin with - I mean, given that it's "cone-shaped" in the first place, probably consisting of bolted-together segments of decreasing size and mass) That's the first, like, improbability.

Then we run smack into something else. To stay in a "cluster" formation of some sort whose components evidently appeared to be about the same size while "glowing" and seemed to maintain their spacing relative to each other - I would think, then, that their masses would have to be just about the same.

Imagine that - a big, cone-shaped part melting into seven separate, smaller parts, each "breaking loose" at the precisely required time so as to maintain a spacing between them. Wow! I am impressed at the debris' ability to do all those calculations and initiate those separation actions on a pretty precise schedule - those Russian engineers are something else! And, given that these "chunks of whatever" seemed to maintain their distance apart in whatever kind of "formation", that would almost have to mean that not only were their relative masses the same to begin with but that the mass of each chunk had to burn away at the same rate (had to - otherwise a "formation" couldn't have been maintained and the distances or spacing between them would have varied/changed visibly and nobody seemed to report that).

Then there's one last feature having to do with the "melting apart" of the "big part" into smaller parts of apparently equal mass in a pretty precisely timed sequence - so as to maintain the same relative spacing between the chunks - that I really don't know how to explain - somebody who knows this kind of stuff could jump in. What I think I'm getting at is that when the original "main chunk" does it's first melt/separate thing, it's mass instantly drops and I would think that it's speed would be affected somehow ... less mass being "presented" to the increasingly dense atmosphere? - something like that? And, I'd think that at the moment it lost part of it's mass, , and given air density is increasing as this thing falls toward earth, it would slow down noticeably relative to it's immediate prior speed and, possibly, the first burned off chunk would be in a slightly higher orbit (less mass and less gravitational "pull" I'd think) - i.e., it's arc would shortly wind up being a little above the arc of the main chunk and would therefore be "out of formation" in the vertical. But, as I said, I really don't know on this - maybe some Mechanical Engineer or Physicist out there can figure out what I'm trying to get at.

Lastly - and I hope everyone will forgive me for procrastinating about this for so long - but I've just GOT to find, attend AND PASS one of those armchair analysis courses - just got to! I mean, think how nice it would be for me to be, oh, say, several hundred miles away from an event, not talk to or even know or read the reports of any actual, on-the-spot, "saw it with my own eyeballs" witnesses and the next day, with a couple of phone calls and the help of one of the more straightforward government agencies, the USAF, be able to accurately and authoritatively tell you just exactly what went on and why ... I mean, this is an ability to be envied, to be sought after - right?

- now where are those school catalogs anyway?


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