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Emily LakdawallaJune 21, 2005

"We have a live spacecraft..."

...we think.

We got spacecraft telemetry data from Kamchatka. We feel reasonably confident that what we saw was real signal. In going back through the Majuro data, Viktor reported this afternoon that we now think we got about 10 seconds of data from that pass. And that 10 seconds of data is consistent enough with the stuff from Kamchatka that we're pretty sure that Viktor saw something that originated from Cosmos 1. Panska Ves also reportedly saw some similar kind of data, with similar kinds of paterns.

So what this means is that we are probably in orbit, but it's not the orbit that we thought it was. So now we search. It could take days to find. We hope to hear from Strat Comm again tomorrow morning.

Where could we be? Odds are, if it was a problem with the launch vehicle, the launch vehicle more likely underperformed than overperformed. That means our orbit is more likely elliptical than circular, and also lower, and therefore faster than we expect. Without knowing where the spacecraft is, it becomes harder and harder to find as we go out from the launch date. Strategic Command has not seen the spacecraft -- we don't know why.

So -- we still don't know where it is, and we're still not in contact with it, which presents a serious problem. We're doing what we can to find it. But the fact that we think we saw it at Majuro and Panska Ves earlier today, means it's alive and in orbit, and there's a much better chance than it seemed earlier today that we could find it again.

Read more: mission status, Cosmos-1, solar sailing

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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