Milstar 5 Centaur Upper Stage Propellant Dump

January 16, 2002

The image below shows sunlight reflecting off excess propellant being dumped from a Centaur upper stage. The stage had previously delivered the Milstar 5 satellite to a geostationary orbit after launch on a Titan 4B.

The image consists of six exposures taken at 2.5 minute intervals with the camera pointing at a fixed point in the sky. These six images were then combined to form the image seen below. Due to the rotation of the Earth, the three stars visible in the image each appear six times as they move across the sky. Since the upper stage was in an essentially geostationary orbit it did not move appreciably during this time and appears as a single spot.

The bright areas at the upper right and far right of the photo are the edge of the roof over my apartment balcony and a tree. The streak at the bottom is a video artifact.

Centaur dump (20,847 Bytes)

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