This page is a copy of the last update found on Dave Ransom's web site, pulled just after his death on 2006 November 5 of congestive heart failure. It is provided here to allow others to continue to benefit from his life's devotion. All of the files are included, but e-mail links and URLs to the original site no longer work. —T.S. Kelso

STSORBIT PLUS STSORBIT PLUS Space Shuttle and Satellite Tracking Software
by David H. Ransom, Jr.

STSORBIT PLUS, usually known as STSPLUS, will track the space shuttle or any satellite for which orbital data (TLEs) are available. A brief description of the program and several screen capture examples follow the links for downloading the program files. Comments, bug reports, and suggestions are invited.
e-mail: David H. Ransom, Jr. [no longer active]

STSPLUS Version 0223 (10 June 2002)

This is a minor update which updates the internal ISS icons to reflect the addition of the Zvezda module. Greg Swift's STSUPDAT adds the capability of transparent orbital data updates via the Internet. A single keypress while the tracking map is displayed will update all the current satellite TLEs! Download the new release of STSPLUS here and use the special STSUPDAT download link (below) to download that program. NOTE: STSUPDAT requires Win95/98/NT/2000. WinNT/2000 users please read the STSPLUS Update Notes for additional information.

Download Hi-Res Shuttle Launch Image (Courtesy NASA)

To obtain the current STSPLUS Update Notes, read or download the following file:
STSPLUS Version 0223 Update Notes (STSPLUS.NEW)
To obtain the complete STSPLUS program, download the following self-extracting archive file:
STSPLUS Version 0223 Full Program (SOP0223.EXE)
To obtain the current UPDATE from Version 9650 or later (changed files ONLY without documentation), download the following self-extracting archive file:
STSPLUS Version 0223 Program UPDATE ONLY (SOP0223U.EXE)
To obtain the current STSUPDAT program, download the following self-extracting archive file:
STSUPDAT Version 0230 by Greg Swift (SU0230.EXE)

To obtain the next higher map database files, download the following self-extracting archive files:
STSPLUS EARTH3 Level 3 Map Database Files (EARTH3.EXE)
STSPLUS EARTH2 Level 2 Map Database Files (EARTH2.EXE)
STSPLUS EARTH1 Level 1 Map Database Files (EARTH1.EXE)

STSICON Program to make satellite icons for STSPLUS

NOTE: STSPLUS files are distributed as self-extracting archive files with filetype ".EXE". Place these files in a directory named STSPLUS and execute the self-extracting archive file to obtain the component files for the program.

Although STSPLUS registration is not required, it will be appreciated! Registration helps defray the cost of support and encourages me to continue improving the program. The minimum donation is only US$15 (free for educational institutions and U.S. government agencies), one of the best software bargains around!
David H. Ransom, Jr.
1492 Paseo de Oro
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Star Award "Congratulations! Your STSPLUS site has been selected to receive the Griffith Observatory Star Award for the week of Dec. 26 - Jan. 1, 2000 for excellence in promoting astronomy to the public through the World Wide Web."
Griffith Observatory Star Award Home Page [URL no longer found]

Additional software and information for use with STSPLUS

STSUPDAT Version 0230 by Greg Swift (25 July 2002) Using STSUPDAT and STSPLUS, Version 0034 or higher, users may now update STSPLUS' orbital data with a single keypress. The orbital data are retrieved from my websites automatically. Complete documentation is included. Download the file below and execute it from your STSPLUS directory.

STSUPDAT now incorporates much improved FTP and site selection logic which speeds up program operation and avoids unnecessary downloads. Printer output has also been added when STSUPDAT is run in the console mode; preliminary testing of the printer output shows different performance on different systems with longer lines truncated in some cases. The printer logic is a 'work in progress' and will be refined in subsequent releases.
Download STSUPDAT Version 0230 (Self-extracting EXE file)

STSPLUS WINDOWS 2000 INSTALLATION by David Bate (Updated 20 January 2002) This MS Word document describes the typical settings required to operate STSPLUS in the Windows 2000 environment. Most settings also apply to Windows NT4. Many thanks, David!
David Bate can be reached here.
Download STSWIN2K.ZIP in Microsoft Word and PDF formats

TRAKSTAR V2.65 by TS Kelso TRAKSTAR may be executed from STSPLUS to provide additional tabular analysis of satellite orbits.
Download TRAKSTAR V2.65

STSPLUS can now interoperate with certain DeLorme and Garmin GPS receivers using my program GPSSYNC, Version 9838 or later. Download the latest GPSSYNC program:
GPSSYNC Version 9838

STSPLUS.FRQ current as of 23 January 2002 by David Bate

A problem has been reported when using STSPLUS with some releases of Windows NT, Version 4.0. The indication is that the times do not display correctly. File WINNT.TXT describes a simple work-around to resolve the problem in most cases.
WINNT.TXT: Windows NT V4.0 Time Bug Work-Around

International Space Station and Hubble Telescope Icons for STSPLUS
International Space Station (with Zvezda) for STSPLUS (ISS2.ICN)
User notes for ISS2.ICN
International Space Station/Space Shuttle Icon for STSPLUS (STSISS2.ICN)
User notes for STSISS2.ICN
Hubble Space Telescope/Space Shuttle Icon for STSPLUS (STSHST.ICN)
User notes for STSHST.ICN

Satellite Orbital Data (TLEs)

The following links will take you to my FTP sites where current orbital data ("TLEs" or "2-Line Elements") are available for download. The data are updated several times weekly.
Current TLE Data [now points to CelesTrak data, which is updated twice daily]

What is STSPLUS?

STSPLUS 3D Orthographic Projection Screen Example
STSPLUS Rectangular Projection Screen Example
STSPLUS on Mir from NASA TV, 02 OCT 97

STSORBIT PLUS, usually known as STSPLUS, is intended for use during Space Shuttle missions and for general satellite tracking using NASA/NORAD 2-Line Orbital Elements. One primary satellite and up to 32 additional "static" or "real time" satellites may be simultaneously tracked in real time on most computers. Both orthographic and rectangular VGA color map projections are available, displaying the Earth as a globe or the more traditional "flat map". A new "Night Vision" mode shows the maps in RED to protect the user's night vision, great for color laptops! Tabular line-of-sight satellite pass predictions may be made from within STSORBIT PLUS and passes of interest may be easily displayed. STSPLUS is widely used throughout NASA and USAF as well as by thousands of "just plain folks" worldwide. STSPLUS was seen operating on the Russian Mir Space Station on NASA Television during the STS-86 mission on 02 October 1997.

STSORBIT PLUS is very accurate when used with current (and accurate) 2-Line Elements (TLEs). The program has been qualified by the USAF and meets the requirement of placing a satellite within 0.5 km over a 24-hour time span from the epoch time of the 2-Line Elements. It is used daily at the USAF Central Computer Complex at Cape Canaveral, by the DOD C-Band Radar Network at their worldwide radar sites, and at half a dozen NASA and aerospace control centers around the country. The program is made available to schools through the NASA Spacelink BBS and the NASA Teacher Resource Centers. Numerous schools and amateur radio enthusiasts have made contact with the space shuttle via SAREX amateur radio while using STSORBIT PLUS.

STSPLUS is intended to display the position and ground track of an orbiting satellite on a selection of maps ranging from a full map of the world to zoom maps showing considerable detail. The program has special features implemented at the request of NASA astronauts and others for use during a NASA Space Shuttle mission. With the appropriate 2-line elements, STSPLUS displays the position and ground track of a variety of satellites such as the Space Shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Gamma Ray Observatory, or the Russian MIR Space Station. Accurate TDRS coverage, including times for acquisition and loss of signal, is calculated for satellites which use that satellite network for communications. Special Location and Tracking Station displays show concentric isocontours, circles of equal satellite altitude; these special maps can be especially valuable for visual or amateur radio sightings.

STSPLUS displays a portion of the Earth using either an orthographic projection (the Earth seen as a globe) or cylindrical projection (similar to the Mercator projection commonly used). The maps show most of the Earth's land boundaries and continental areas. Major oceans, seas, and rivers are easily recognizable. Considerable detail is shown at higher zoom factors. Automatic map generation ensures that the satellite is always displayed. The display shows the selected satellite as a small symbol or icon, the projected orbital ground track for the next three hours and the past one and a half hours, and many other features including circles of visibility, TDRS coverage, and the solar terminator. Additional higher detail Map Database Files are available with registration.

The following two screen images illustrate the higher map detail available with the optional LEVEL1 and LEVEL2 map database files (available on disk only):
STSPLUS 3D Orthographic Projection Screen Example of Florida using LEVEL 1 Map Database
STSPLUS 3D Orthographic Projection Screen Example of Florida using LEVEL 2 Map Database

Data is displayed which gives the current ground track position of the satellite, known as the "sub-satellite point", antenna or viewing angles, spacecraft lighting, TDRS communications coverage (when applicable), and a variety of other information. A selection of map modes and display features allow users to configure the program to meet their requirements.

Hardware Required to Run STSPLUS

A 486DX-class computer running at 20MHz and equipped with a 487 math coprocessor chip is the minimum system used for all program testing and development. While other systems may give acceptable performance, this minimum configuration assures that most features will execute as described and in real time. Performance with 486DX or higher systems will be far superior to 386DX systems. Note that NO TESTING is performed on systems not equipped with a math coprocessor. The following minimum hardware and software are recommended:

DOS 3.x or higher (restart in MS-DOS mode for Win95)
386DX or higher (486DX recommended!) IBM-compatible computer
387/487 math coprocessor chip (if not included in main processor)
VGA color display recommended, VGA monochrome display acceptable
Hard disk with up to 4MB available
Requires approximately 500KB free RAM

Support and Additional Information

e-mail: David H. Ransom, Jr. [no longer active]

Back to Dave Ransom's Home Page [no longer active]

David H. Ransom, Jr.
1492 Paseo de Oro
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 USA
©opyright David H. Ransom, Jr., 2005
All rights reserved.