> How big would a typical rocket have to be to be spotted on radar?
Back in my college days during the summer, I went over to the Wallops range
control center (second floor, Hanger N-159) to watch a night shot. My dad
ran the launch. About T-2 minutes, the transponder aboard the vehicle went
out. My dad turns to the project manager, reports this and says "what do you
want to do?". Replies he, "can you skin track it". "We'll try, but I can't
guarentee it." The project manager says go ahead and launch. The Wallops
crew proceeds to skin track the vehicle all the way to its impact 600 miles
downrange. Cheers, and backslapping all around.
When I querried Dad afterwards, he said that track was the exception, not the
rule. The cross sectional area of a sounding rocket, considerably larger
than anything discussed in this thread, isn't that much for a radar to
handle. And I suspect that equation gets worse when we're talking about
general coverage radar systems, like those employed in air traffic control.
Mark B. Bundick "Running a NARAM will never be harder
NAR Vice President than building a nice scale model"