Jonathan McDowell's Statement on United States Non-Compliance with UNR1721B

There's been some media attention to my statement to New Scientist Magazine that the US is not in compliance with the UN Convention on Registration of Outer Space Objects (1975) and UN Resolution 1721B (1961). In my newsletter, JSR 453, I stated: "The bulk of the information provided to the UN on classified satellites is deliberately wrong or misleading". Here's a clarification of my position.

  • 9) Let's have some details and references: Paper 1 (McDowell 1994, revised 2001) lists the type A/B/C errors (failure to register) for all states.

    I'll give the details of the US errors here (Appendix A). If you are a citizen of some other country, I encourage you to check Paper 1 and pressure your country to fix its errors.

    Jonathan McDowell, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2001 Aug 16.

    Appendix A - US errors in UN registration

    Type A errors:

    US           1981-119A         Intelsat 5 F3          1981 Dec 15
    US           1982-97A          Intelsat 5 F5          1982 Sep 28
    US           1985-25A          Intelsat 5A F10        1985 Mar 22
    US           1985-55A          Intelsat 5A F11        1985 Jun 30
    US           1985-63B          PDP                    1985 Jul 29
    US           1985-87A          Intelsat 5A F12        1985 Sep 28
    US           1990-02A          STS 32R                1990 Jan  9
    US           1990-21A          Intelsat 6 F3          1990 Mar 14
    US           1990-56A          Intelsat 6 F4          1990 Jun 23
    US           1991-40A          STS 40                 1991 Jun  5
    US           1991-80A          STS 44                 1991 Nov 25
    US           1992-26A          STS 49                 1992 May  7
    US           1993-17B          SEDS 1                 1993 Mar 30
    US           1993-58B          ACTS                   1993 Sep 12
    US           1994-64A          Intelsat 703           1994 Oct  6
    US           1994-73A          STS 66                 1994 Nov  3
    US           1995-01A          Intelsat 704           1995 Jan 10
    US           1995-13A          Intelsat 705           1995 Mar 22
    US           1995-69A          Galaxy 3R              1995 Dec 15
    US           1998-14A          Intelsat 806           1998 Feb 28
    US           1998-37A          Intelsat 805           1998 Jun 18
    US           1998-69F          Unity                  1998 Dec  4
    US           1999-31A          Globalstar             1999 Jun 10
    US           1999-31B          Globalstar             1999 Jun 10
    US           1999-31C          Globalstar             1999 Jun 10
    US           1999-31D          Globalstar             1999 Jun 10
    

    Type B errors:

    US           1983-105A         Intelsat 5 F7          1983 Oct 19
    US           1984-23A          Intelsat 5 F8          1984 Mar  5
    US           1988-40A          Intelsat 5A F13        1988 May 18
    US           1989-06A          Intelsat 5A F15        1989 Jan 27
    US           1989-87A          Intelsat 6 F2          1989 Oct 27
    US           1991-55A          Intelsat 6 F5          1991 Aug 14
    US           1991-75A          Intelsat 6 F1          1991 Oct 29
    US           1993-66A          Intelsat 701           1993 Oct 22
    US           1994-34A          Intelsat 702           1994 Jun 17
    US           1994-40A          PAS 2                  1994 Jul  8
    US           1995-23A          Intelsat 706           1995 May 17
    US           1995-72B          Skipper                1995 Dec 28
    US           1995-73A          Echostar 1             1995 Dec 28
    US           1996-15A          Intelsat 707           1996 Mar 14
    US           1996-35A          Intelsat 709           1996 Jun 15
    US           1997-09A          Intelsat 801           1997 Mar  1
    US           1997-30A          Iridium 9              1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30B          Iridium 10             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30C          Iridium 11             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30D          Iridium 12             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30E          Iridium 13             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30F          Iridium 14             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-30G          Iridium 16             1997 Jun 18
    US           1997-31A          Intelsat 802           1997 Jun 25
    US           1997-51A          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51B          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51C          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51D          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51E          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51F          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-51G          Iridium                1997 Sep 14
    US           1997-53A          Intelsat 803           1997 Sep 23
    US           1997-83A          Intelsat 804           1997 Dec 22
    US           1997-86A          Asiasat 3/HGS-1        1997 Dec 24
    US           1998-18A          Iridium                1998 Mar 25
    US           1998-18B          Iridium                1998 Mar 25
    US           1998-21A          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21B          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21C          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21D          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21E          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21F          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-21G          Iridium                1998 Apr  7
    US           1998-65A          Panamsat 8             1998 Nov  4
    US           1998-67A          Zarya                  1998 Nov 20
    US           1999-04A          Globalstar             1999 Feb  9
    US           1999-04B          Globalstar             1999 Feb  9
    US           1999-04C          Globalstar             1999 Feb  9
    US           1999-04D          Globalstar             1999 Feb  9
    US           1999-12A          Globalstar             1999 Mar 15
    US           1999-12B          Globalstar             1999 Mar 15
    US           1999-12C          Globalstar             1999 Mar 15
    US           1999-12D          Globalstar             1999 Mar 15
    US           1999-14A          DemoSat                1999 Mar 28
    US           1999-19A          Globalstar             1999 Apr 15
    US           1999-19B          Globalstar             1999 Apr 15
    US           1999-19C          Globalstar             1999 Apr 15
    US           1999-19D          Globalstar             1999 Apr 15
    US           1999-49A          Globalstar             1999 Sep 22
    US           1999-49B          Globalstar             1999 Sep 22
    US           1999-49C          Globalstar             1999 Sep 22
    US           1999-49D          Globalstar             1999 Sep 22
    US           1999-53A          LMI 1                  1999 Sep 27
    US           1999-58A          Globalstar             1999 Oct 18
    US           1999-58B          Globalstar             1999 Oct 18
    US           1999-58C          Globalstar             1999 Oct 18
    US           1999-58D          Globalstar             1999 Oct 18
    US           1999-62A          Globalstar             1999 Nov 22
    US           1999-62B          Globalstar             1999 Nov 22
    US           1999-62C          Globalstar             1999 Nov 22
    US           1999-62D          Globalstar             1999 Nov 22
    US           2000-74A          QuickBird              2000 Nov 20
    
    

    Type C errors: these are the unregistered US military satellites which are the clearest examples of US non-compliance with the Convention. (it's arguable that the two NATO satellites should have been registered by some other state, but they were developed and operated by the US Air Force).

    US           1978-106A         NATO 3C                1978 Nov 19
    US           1984-115A         NATO 3D                1984 Nov 14
    US           1988-52A          Nova 2                 1988 Jun 16
    US           1989-72A          USA 45                 1989 Sep  6
    US           1990-31A          USA 56                 1990 Apr 11
    US           1990-31B          USA 57                 1990 Apr 11
    US           1990-31C          USA 58                 1990 Apr 11
    US           1990-50E          USA 62                 1990 Jun  8
    US           1991-76D          USA 76                 1991 Nov  8
    US           1991-76E          USA 77                 1991 Nov  8
    US           1995-04H          ODERACS 2F             1995 Feb  3
    US           1995-57A          UHF F6                 1995 Oct 22
    

    Example of Type D errors

    1990-50B/C/D (NRO) - No orbit given
    1978-38A  (NRO)    - Spurious orbit given (probably forgot to subtract Earth radius)
    1978-93A  (GPS)    - Spurious orbit given (probably confused nautical mi. and km)
    1991-76C  (USA 74) - Spurious orbit given 
    

    Recent Type E errors: these are the ones that DoD would argue are a legitimate loophole rather than a violation. There are many more examples in earlier years.

    1999-17A   (DSP)         Parking orbit given
    1999-23A   (Milstar)     Parking orbit given
    2000-01A   (DSCS)        Transfer orbit given
    2000-65A   (DSCS)        Transfer orbit given
    2000-80A   (NRO)         Transfer orbit given