International Designator

The Astronomical name, engl. International Designator, short NSSDC ID, the catalog number of each spacecraft in an orbit that is reported of COSPAR. The term spacecraft is seen doing very generous and includes all objects that emerged from the launch of a rocket and have an independent orbit. Sense of this approach is all spacecraft - no matter what size and origin - with their unique path data to detect and can filter them out as interference from astronomical observations. The well established national ( military) Designation systems were fit not for this purpose during the Cold War. For suborbital / ballistic flights was awarded on grounds of irrelevance in astronomical observations not labeled. For the sake of reporting on failed launches this year consecutive number -F, however, were subsequently in the lists drawn up according to the scheme introduced.

First System 1957-1963

In astronomical tradition (stars, comets and asteroids ) any initial review was referred to ( according to a rocket launch ) with year and a Greek letter from 1957. To distinguish the goods of several objects, they got on their size a numeric index.

As of 1961, the 24 letters were not enough due to the number of sightings and it was a second used for further counting.

Current system since 1963

From 1963, we went to today's naming scheme year consecutive number (two or three digits) alphabets ( Latin ) Index over.

The index is assigned according to the apparent meaning of the object. Because now available for virtually all payloads names of the operators, the indices A and mostly following the payloads, only then followed by rocket stages and separated parts. The catalog contains about 6500 entries ( as of 2008).

The names of the old system were subsequently converted into terms of the new system.


  • The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was designated the 1957 α 2 also Come into orbit last rocket stage in 1957 to α 1, because it was visually much larger. These names were in the new system to the 1957 001A for the rocket stage and 1957 - 001B for the satellite, although both were now burns.
  • The Gamastrahlensatellit Swift was the only satellite that has been exposed to the Delta II launch D -309 and therefore the NSSDC ID: 2004 - 047A
  • The Satellite TV TV - SAT 2 is the first exposed the Ariane 4 launch V33 satellite and therefore the NSSDC ID: 1989 - 062A. The Astrometriesatellit Hipparcos has as the second with the same start ( Ariane 4 V33 ) exposed to the satellite NSSDC ID: 1989 - 062B
  • A fragment of the Chinese Fengyun -1C in 2007 destroyed satellites ( original NSSDC ID of the Satellite 1999 - 025A ) thus has the NSSDC ID: 1999 - 025DJM receive.

Another naming scheme for artificial satellites is the five-digit Satellite Catalog Number.