Having previously expressed our consternation over European satellite operator Eutelsat’s naming system for its satellites (yes – it remains very confusing), we noted our intention to make things clearer on the Flightglobal/Ascend SpaceTrak database by using the Eutelsat title along with the international number for each Eutelsat satellite. However, we have come to the conclusion that this too is not clear enough. Following suggestions from the insurance market, from now on, the SpaceTrak database will use the official spacecraft name as set by the orbital location of the Eutelsat spacecraft along with the original name the satellite was known by when it was launched. This will be in brackets/parantheses. The international number and the launch date can still be used if there is any doubt about the identity of a spacecraft.
The Flightglobal SpaceTrak editor apologises for this change and apparent U-turn. While the General Custer character in the movie Little Big Man (1970) made a point that few things were “worth the reversal of a Custer decision”, our view is that if we make a mistake we should change it. Or else we risk meeting our Waterloo (or Little Big Horn).