General Location for Soviet Tracking Ships
The foregoing paragraphs have referenced several of the places where Soviet tracking ships can be found during missions, but a comprehensive summary of these locations was prepared by James E. Oberg of the United States .(51) Captain Oberg mapped in relation to spacecraft ground traces the favorite places for the tracking ships. For example, he showed that during most of the Soyuz flights, one of the high capacity civilian ships anchors off Sable Island , Nova Scotia (about 44.5° N, 59.5° W) where four successive orbits pass within easy direct communication range.
A second location connected with the manned flights is in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa, to monitor retrofire just before the reentry and landing near Karaganda in the U.S.S.R. In this same Gulf of Guinea area, deep space flights get their acceleration out of Earth orbit, so are often monitored there. Then a deep space flight occurs, the ground trace reflects the combined effects of the acceleration to escape and the turning of the Earth itself. The ground trace goes east over Africa , Asia , and the Pacific, but as it climbs away from Earth, velocity is lost and the ground trace makes a U-turn over the South Atlantic and heads west over Central America. Hence, there are often tracking ships strung along this South Atlantic trace which otherwise would be unobservable with ease from Soviet territory.
Finally, the Zond type of low G reentry from the Moon requires monitoring and potential pickup near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean when flights approach Earth over Antarctica . They also must be in the Indian Ocean between South Africa and Australia when such flights come in over the Arctic and land in the Indian Ocean.
A large tracking ship either in a Cuban port such as Havana or Santiago , or in Trinidad gives added coverage to these deep space flights during early critical phases of the escape mission. During the ASTP mission, a large tracking ship was located off the coast of Honduras (at approximately 16° N, 87.5° W) to supplement the Sable Island position.
1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,
51. Oberg, James. Soviet tracking from the sea, Flight International, London , November 15, 1973 , pp.828-9.
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