On Nov 24th and 28th, 2013, Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Ontario captured imagery of the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane in the night sky. Orbiting Earth for over year, the mission’s purpose and capability is “in the black.” — Read more about the secret mission here: http://goo.gl/A9Tkz9
This article about the Atlas V launch this week of a NRO spysat discusses the tracking of these sorts of secret vehicles by amateur spacecraft observers: Atlas Launch Report | Government spy satellite rockets into space on Atlas 5 – Spaceflight Now
Ted Molczan, an experienced amateur satellite watcher in Canada, believes Thursday’s launch lofted the third radar satellite in the Topaz series.
“Am I convinced? I would say I am 80 percent confident NROL-39 is Topaz,” said Jonathan McDowell, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.
It is “always possible there is a one-off vehicle in a somewhat similar orbit. Let’s see the amateurs pick it up and get its orbit, then we’ll make a final conclusion,” McDowell said before Thursday’s launch.
Find more about tracking spacecraft in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.