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TiPS - Satellite Information

Spacetrack catalog number 23937
COSPAR ID 1996-029-F
Name in Spacetrack catalog USA 124

Satellite Details

Orbit 736 x 1,239 km, 63.4°
Category unknown
Country/organisation of origin United States
Mass 54 kg
Dimensions 2 bodies, connected by 4km long tether
Intrinsic brightness (Magnitude) 7.2 (at 1000km distance, 50% illuminated)
Maximum brightness (Magnitude)5.9 (at perigee, 100% illuminated)


Date (UTC) 12 May 1996 21:32
Launch siteVandenberg AFB,
United States
Launch vehicle Titan 403A


TiPS is the "Tether Physics and Survivability Experiment", and consists of two small bodies connected by a 4 km long tether. The lower body is called "Ralph" and has a mass of 37.6 kg, and the upper one is called "Norton" (10.4 kg). The tether itself has a mass of 5.4 kg, and is non-conducting. TiPS is an interesting satellite to observe through binoculars, and it's possible to see the tether stretching between the two bodies under the right conditions.

Links to further information
View from orbit pole