Prowler Satellite

Space Shuttle mission STS 38 is officially acknowledged to have deployed only a single payload, which is known to be a geosynchronous communications satellite, operated by the National Reconnaissance Office. It has since leaked out that STS 38 deployed a second payload: an optically stealthy, geosynchronous satellite inspector, named Prowler. In 1998, hobbyists discovered a bright unknown GEO object, with optical and orbital characteristics of a satellite, which they call 2000-653A / 90007. By early 2010, independent GEO satellite observation networks had accounted for every single GEO satellite acknowledged to have been launched, yet 2000-653A remained unidentified. Analysis of its optical and orbital characteristics, and other relevant facts, reveals great consistency with the emerging Prowler story, resulting in a strong circumstantial case that 2000-653A is Prowler. A detailed report is available here.

A retrospective analysis confirms that STS 38 had the opportunity to launch Prowler. Atlantis could easily have launched the combined mass of both satellites and accommodated them within its payload bay. The orbital and observational history of STS 38 reveals the time of both payload deployments, and narrows the time of the PKM firings to a roughly half day period. Prowler was at risk of detection by the Soviet Union’s space surveillance and SIGINT systems, from deployment until arrival at its initial location in GEO. Taking into account likely detection avoidance measures narrows the time of its PKM firing to three revolutions. Evidence of deception consistent with providing cover for Prowler is found in the shuttle’s nonstandard payload separation manoeuvres after both satellite deployments, and the apparent timing of Prowler’s deployment to avoid detection by the SIGINT facility at Lourdes, Cuba. A detailed report is available here

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