Top secret NOSS anti terrorism sea tracking satellites launched

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Top secret NOSS anti terrorism sea tracking satellites launched

This is a big job, tracking all sea traffic.
Two top secret National Reconnaissance Office/Navy ocean surveillance spacecraft to track terrorist movements at sea are being readied for launch from Cape Canaveral June 14.

The government will discuss the launch and satellite mission only generally, but details gleaned from intelligence sources were reported April 30 in Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Liftoff from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 41 is planned between 11:18 a.m. and noon EDT on board a nearly 200-ft.-tall U.S. Air Force Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.

The rocket was scheduled be rolled to the launch pad late June 13. The loading of tons of kerosene and liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants will begin early June 14.

There is a 70% chance weather for the launch will be favorable, according to the Air Forces 45th Space Wing, which is managing the launch in connection with Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance.

One unusual aspect of this secret U.S. military flight is that the Atlas V is powered by Russian RD-180 engines designed during the Cold War.

The importance of NRO's ocean surveillance role, which it coordinates with the Navy and Coast Guard, has been elevated since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And it is likely that Air Force fighters will fly patrols near the launch site to guard against any airborne terrorist attacks on the mission itself. Air Force F-22s were used for the first time for protection of the space shuttle prior to its launch June 8.

The need to track thousands of civilian ships worldwide has intensified given the potential for seemingly harmless shipping to be involved in nuclear, chemical or biological terrorist operations. Also, potential adversaries like China and Iran are demonstrating new sea-based tactics and capabilities that must be monitored.

The National Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) flight, designated NRO L-30 will track such terrorist operations at sea as well as provide data on Chinese and Iranian ship tactics. Although classified top secret, the mission insignia is painted several feet tall on the Atlas V nose shroud. It shows a 19th century clipper ship under full sail viewed from above, as a satellite would see it.

The two satellites on the Atlas V mission have a combined mass of about 6.5 tons and will use primarily electronic intelligence (elint) techniques combined with interferometery. The technique involves comparing the differences in the elint data from each spacecraft to derive accurate position and direction of travel data.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., plays a key role in the mission. The spacecraft and launcher combined have a total cost of $600-800 million.

The satellites will fly in formation in an elliptical orbit that is precisely controlled to obtain data at different times as they overfly specific ships, so that the vessels movements can be detected and tracked.

Those data will then be combined with information from about 18 other NRO ocean surveillance satellites spaced in six or seven formations orbiting the globe.

After liftoff, the Atlas V will fly a trajectory northward along the U.S. East Coast. Viewers as far north as the Virginia coast should be able to see the Atlas V rocket plumes if weather conditions are favorable in their areas.
By netchicken: posted on 15-6-2007

And there it goes ....

An Atlas V rocket lifts off from launch pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Friday, June 15, 2007, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The rocket carrying an intelligence-gathering payload for the Pentagon launched Friday, a day after being delayed for technical problems.

The rocket is hauling a payload from the National Reconnaissance Office, a division of the Department of Defense that builds and operates spy satellites

spy-satelittes-rocket.jpg - 94.93kb
By netchicken: posted on 16-6-2007

I cant believe they are using a russian engine. we spend all those years beating the russians in the space race and now we are using their rockets! :ba
By Xphilesphan: posted on 17-6-2007

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