Author Topic: NROL codenames  (Read 61578 times)

Offline William Graham

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RE: NROL codenames
« Reply #20 on: 05/10/2008 10:21 AM »
I think:
NROL-2 - USA-129 (Imp. Crystal) - Titan IVA - 20 December 1996
NROL-4 - USA-136 "Oscar" (Trumpet) - Titan IVA/Centaur - 8 November 1997
NROL-28 - USA-200 (Trumpet) - Atlas V 411 - 13 March 2008

I'm not quite sure whether NRO L-6 is USA-139 (Advanced Orion), launched on 9 May 1998, or Mercury-3, which was lost in a launch failure on 12 August 1998.

The others will probably be:

  • Whichever 1998 ELINT launch is not L-6
  • USA-119/124 (NOSS) - Titan IVA - 12 May 1996
  • USA-125 (SDS) - Titan IVA - 3 July 1996
  • USA-133 (Lacrosse) - Titan IVA - 24 October 1997
  • USA-144 (Misty) - Titan IVB - 22 May 1999
  • USA-152 (Lacrosse) - Titan IVB - 17 August 2000
  • USA-161 (Imp. Crystal) - Titan IVB - 5 October 2001


    Some of the ones that haven't launched yet (Satellite types are guessed based on patches and known mission parameters):
    NROL-25 - NOSS "Altair" - Delta IVM+(5,2) - 2011
    NROL-26 - Adv. Orion or Prowler - Delta IVH - 9 September 2008

    L-27 (DIVM+(4,2), April 2010) is probably Trumpet, L-15 (DIVH, April 2011) and L-32 (December 2009) could be GSO ELINTs. L-49 (DIVH, December 2010) is probably the last Improved Crystal, but it could be Lacrosse. L-29 (Atlas, TBD) is probably radar reconnaissance, hit by huge delays following the failure of L-21, which would explain the dissapearence from the schedules. The same could apply for L-39 (Atlas, 2011). Not sure about L-34 (AV401, October 2009), but possibly NOSS. I really don't know about L-41 (AV501, 2010), probably something with high volume and low mass. I would guess a follow-up to either Lacrosse (Like L-29) or Improved Crystal. These are just guesses, and time will show how many are correct.

  • Offline William Graham

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    RE: NROL codenames
    « Reply #21 on: 05/10/2008 11:01 AM »
    An update on my last post:

    L-6 appears to have been the Mercury. The launch name was "Elwood". The launch name for th Advanced Orion on 9 May 1998 was "Jack", and the launch name for the SDS on 3 July 1996 was "Cygnus". I think L-14 might have been the Improved Crystal on 5 October 2001.

    Offline faustod

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    RE: NROL codenames
    « Reply #22 on: 05/10/2008 04:44 PM »
    Quote
    GW_Simulations - 10/5/2008  5:21 AM

    Some of the ones that haven't launched yet (Satellite types are guessed based on patches and known mission parameters):
    NROL-25 - NOSS "Altair" - Delta IVM+(5,2) - 2011
    NROL-26 - Adv. Orion or Prowler - Delta IVH - 9 September 2008

    L-27 (DIVM+(4,2), April 2010) is probably Trumpet, L-15 (DIVH, April 2011) and L-32 (December 2009) could be GSO ELINTs. L-49 (DIVH, December 2010) is probably the last Improved Crystal, but it could be Lacrosse. L-29 (Atlas, TBD) is probably radar reconnaissance, hit by huge delays following the failure of L-21, which would explain the dissapearence from the schedules. The same could apply for L-39 (Atlas, 2011). Not sure about L-34 (AV401, October 2009), but possibly NOSS. I really don't know about L-41 (AV501, 2010), probably something with high volume and low mass. I would guess a follow-up to either Lacrosse (Like L-29) or Improved Crystal. These are just guesses, and time will show how many are correct.

    Interesting post.

    About that, I have some considerations:

    1- I read somewhere that Prowler is the followon of Trumpet.
       So, I understand that NROL-26 will be an Adv.Orion in case of a GTO launch,    
       otherwise it will be a Prowler, if the launch will be to a Molniya type orbit.

    2- I suppose that the already launched NROL-22 and NROL-28, were Trumpet/Prowler type.

    3- About NROL-34 and NROL-25(probably NOSS), I noted that the previous
        NOSS sats, were launched:
        NROL-13 and NRO-18 from VAFB and more recently NROL-23 and NROL-30 from CCAFS.
        Apparently, this type of sats, will now return to be launched from VAFB.

    Offline William Graham

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    RE: NROL codenames
    « Reply #23 on: 05/10/2008 07:16 PM »
    Quote
    faustod - 10/5/2008  4:44 PM
    1- I read somewhere that Prowler is the followon of Trumpet.
       So, I understand that NROL-26 will be an Adv.Orion in case of a GTO launch,    
       otherwise it will be a Prowler, if the launch will be to a Molniya type orbit.

    I have read different things about Prowler from different places. Some sources say that it is a Molniya-orbit ELINT (L-22 and L-28), whilst others say that it is a GSO ELINT bird. According to a source, ULA have publicly acknowledged that L-26 is a GSO launch. I would expect that as with Titan/Centaur launches, the payload will separate into GSO and not GTO.

    Quote
    2- I suppose that the already launched NROL-22 and NROL-28, were Trumpet/Prowler type.

    They would appear to be Trumpet, or a follow-on programme. If Prowler is the Molniya-orbit programme, then this would apply.

    Quote
    3- About NROL-34 and NROL-25(probably NOSS), I noted that the previous
        NOSS sats, were launched:
        NROL-13 and NRO-18 from VAFB and more recently NROL-23 and NROL-30 from CCAFS.
        Apparently, this type of sats, will now return to be launched from VAFB.
    It would appear so. Interesting to note that the next Trumpet launch appears to have switched the other way. Having seen the mission patch, I am absolutely convinced about L-25, as it exhibits a symbol which has appeared on several NOSS patches, and nothing else. It is probably to early to say about L-34.



    Interestingly, I've been studying the PDF document linked to earlier in this thread, and it appears that one of the big payloads in the next few years is too heavy for D-IVH. That would suggest that they're not all the same type. Owing to its out-of-sequence designation, I am guessing that L-15 is the odd one out. Possibly an old LEO recon bird making one last flight. Some sources suggest that a sixth Lacrosse was built, and there is strong evidence that another Improved Crystal is on the way (one was supposedly ordered sometime around 2005/06 due to delays with FIA). The strange thing is that DIVH can supposedly outperform Titan. IC cannot launch from Canaveral, hence it is probably L-47, but Lacrosse has done so twice. Therefore if L-15 is an old LEO bird, it must be Lacrosse. The only other possibility would have been Misty, but that has been cancelled. The only confusion over the Lacrosse is that it would presumably be a replacement for Lacrosse-2, which is in a higher inclination orbit that can normally be reached from Canaveral - maybe the preformance issue is to do with a dog-leg in order to reach that orbit.

    Offline faustod

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    RE: NROL codenames
    « Reply #24 on: 05/11/2008 08:25 AM »
    Thanks very much for reply.
    As usually for the military programs,  when the launches will take place, we will know more about them.

    Offline faustod

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #25 on: 05/13/2008 03:19 PM »
    Reading the thread, I understand that we have as follows:

    NROL-1 USA-179 "Nemesis" 31.08.2004 Atlas-2AS AC-167
    NROL-2 USA-129 Imp.Crystal 20.12.1996 Titan IVA
    NROL-3 ???
    NROL-4 USA-136 "Oscar" Trumpet  8.11.1997  Titan IVA/Centaur
    NROL-5 USA-137 "Capricorn" 29.01.1998 Atlas 2A AC-109
    NROL-6 Mercury-3 "Elwood" launch failure, 12.08.1998 Titan IVA/Centaur
    NROL-7 ???
    NROL-8 ???
    NROL-9 ???
    NROL-10 USA-155 "Great Bear" 06.12.2000 Atlas 2AS AC-157
    NROL-11 ???
    NROL-12 USA-162 "Aquila" 10.10.2001 Atlas IIAS AC-162
    NROL-13 USA-160 " Gemini" 08.09.2001 Atlas 2AS AC-160
    NROL-14 USA-161 Imp.Crystal 05.10.2001 Titan 4B
    NROL-15 planned
    NROL-16 USA-182 Lacrosse 30.04.2005 Titan 4B B-30
    NROL-17 USA-158 GeoLITE 18.05.2001 Delta 2
    NROL-18 USA-173 "Libra" 02.12.2003 Atlas 2AS AC-164
    NROL-19 USA-171 Adv. Orion 09.09.2003 Titan 4B B-36
    NROL-20 USA-186 Imp.Crystal 19.10.2005 Titan 4B B-26
    NROL-21 USA-193 14.12.2006 Delta 7920
    NROL-22 USA-184 Trumpet 28.06.2006 Delta 4M+(4.2)
    NROL-23 USA-181 "Canis Minor" 03.02.2005 Atlas 3B AC-206
    NROL-24 USA-198 "Scorpius" 10.12.2007 Atlas V401
    NROL-25 planned
    NROL-26 planned
    NROL-27 planned
    NROL-28 USA-200 Trumpet 13.03.2008 Atlas V 411  
    NROL-29 planned
    NROL-30 USA-194 "Pixis" 15.06.2007 Atlas V401

    Only five launches already performed remain to be determined.
    I think they are:

    USA-133 Lacrosse  24.10.1997  Titan IVA
    USA-139 "Jack" Adv.Orion  09.05.1998 Titan IVB/Centaur
    USA-141 STEX   03.10.1998   Taurus 1110
    USA-144 Misty  22.05.1999   Titan IVB
    USA-152 Lacrosse  17.08.2000  Titan IVB


    Pratically I suppose that the NROL codenumbers started on 01.10.1996 with the Fiscal Year 1997.



    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #26 on: 05/13/2008 03:52 PM »
    Quote
    faustod - 13/5/2008  3:19 PM
    USA-141 STEX   03.10.1998   Taurus 1110

    USA-125 (SDS) - Titan IVA - 3 July 1996 is also possible. I don't know if they designate small satellites (but there again they don't normally get USA designations either). It is very likely to be STEX if your theory about the introduction is correct. Ignore the NOSS launch in my last post, that was a mistake.

    The really strange thing is that the L-2 payload patch says "Titan-Centaur" and "SLC-40" on it, but was launched with out a Centaur and from SLC-4E. I noticed the same anomaly on another Improved Crystal patch. I'm looking into it. If the patch is to be believed, the launch name was "Joker", but I cannot be sure due to the inconsistencies. The patch looks a bit like a Milstar one, so I'm wondering if the payload was transferred or something.

    Offline WHAP

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #27 on: 05/13/2008 04:50 PM »
    Can you post a picture of the patch?

    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #28 on: 05/13/2008 05:13 PM »
    Quote
    WHAP - 13/5/2008  4:50 PM

    Can you post a picture of the patch?

    Here they are. The "Joker" patch is L-2, and the "Sugar Daddy" patch is the previous Improved Crystal launch, which was on 5 December 1995. Both claim to be Titan-Centaur launches, but both serial numbers refer to Titan-only launches.

    The images were downloaded from ebay, but are in the public domain under US copyright law, as they are images of work produced by the US Government, so there should be no legal issues.

    Offline WHAP

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #29 on: 05/13/2008 06:17 PM »
    The Joker patch is for Titan/Centaur-13 (Titan 4 A21/K21), which was a Milstar launch on 11/6/95.  It is not NROL-2.

    The Sugar Daddy patch is for Titan/Centaur-16 (Titan 4 A17/K20).  This was not a Milstar launch.  It occurred on 11/7/97.

    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #30 on: 05/13/2008 07:23 PM »
    Quote
    WHAP - 13/5/2008  6:17 PM

    The Joker patch is for Titan/Centaur-13 (Titan 4 A21/K21), which was a Milstar launch on 11/6/95.  It is not NROL-2.

    What's with the difference in designations?

    Quote
    WHAP - 13/5/2008  6:17 PM

    The Sugar Daddy patch is for Titan/Centaur-16 (Titan 4 A17/K20).  This was not a Milstar launch.  It occurred on 11/7/97.

    Are you sure? I've already seen two patches for that launch. I would say the number looks more like a 15, not a 16, but it is hard to read given the low quality of the image.


    Thanks for your help.

    Offline WHAP

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #31 on: 05/13/2008 08:42 PM »
    If it's T/C-15, it was on Titan 4 A16/K16, also not a Milstar mission.  I forgot what the Titan "K" designators represented; the A represents the Titan 4 model (the B model had upgraded SRM's and avionics, I think).

    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #32 on: 05/30/2008 10:05 PM »
    Looks like I was wrong about L-6.

    L-6 was USA-139, L-11 was USA-152.

    I'm not sure which designation applies to Mercury-3.

    Offline dchill

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #33 on: 05/30/2008 10:43 PM »
    What's with the difference in designations?

    Are you sure? I've already seen two patches for that launch. I would say the number looks more like a 15, not a 16, but it is hard to read given the low quality of the image.


    Thanks for your help.
    I'm pretty sure we called that one "Sweet 16" as in a young girl's 16th birthday - hence the "How Sweet it is" and the "Sugar Daddy" references.  I didn't work that mission (since it flew with the older Centaur avionics?) so I didn't get the patch.

    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #34 on: 05/30/2008 11:26 PM »
    I'm pretty sure we called that one "Sweet 16" as in a young girl's 16th birthday - hence the "How Sweet it is" and the "Sugar Daddy" references.  I didn't work that mission (since it flew with the older Centaur avionics?) so I didn't get the patch.

    Yes "Sweet 16" is on the launch patch. Seems to make sense. I now have three patches associated with that one, did they give the Centaurs their own patches on some flights?

    Thanks.

    Offline WHAP

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #35 on: 05/31/2008 01:48 PM »
    Most, if not all, of the Centaurs had their own patch.  I had to go through my stack of T-shirts (I got those in lieu of the patches; the T-shirts are not specifically for the Centaur) and confirmed that this one was TC-15.  It has the Sweet 16 reference, which must be for the Titan booster (Centaur was Sugar Daddy, as shown on the patch).

    Both TC-15 and TC-16 flew with the newer avionics.

    Offline SFox

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #36 on: 06/01/2008 11:11 AM »
    NRO L-11 == TITAN IV B-28 Lacrosse-4
    e-Bay link
    “The NRO was once an intelligence organization at the beginning of the space age; now, it is a space agency in the information age...” ©Robert Kohler

    Offline faustod

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #37 on: 06/02/2008 08:42 AM »
    Now we have:

    NROL-1 USA-179 "Nemesis" 31.08.2004 Atlas-2AS AC-167
    NROL-2 USA-129 Imp.Crystal 20.12.1996 Titan IVA
    NROL-3  ??
    NROL-4 USA-136 "Oscar" Trumpet  8.11.1997  Titan IVA/Centaur
    NROL-5 USA-137 "Capricorn" 29.01.1998 Atlas 2A AC-109
    NROL-6 USA-139 "Jack" Adv.Orion  09.05.1998 Titan IVB/Centaur
    NROL-7  ??
    NROL-8  ??
    NROL-9  ??
    NROL-10 USA-155 "Great Bear" 06.12.2000 Atlas 2AS AC-157
    NROL-11 USA-152 Lacrosse  17.08.2000  Titan IVB
    NROL-12 USA-162 "Aquila" 10.10.2001 Atlas IIAS AC-162
    NROL-13 USA-160 " Gemini" 08.09.2001 Atlas 2AS AC-160
    NROL-14 USA-161 Imp.Crystal 05.10.2001 Titan 4B
    NROL-15 planned
    NROL-16 USA-182 Lacrosse 30.04.2005 Titan 4B B-30
    NROL-17 USA-158 GeoLITE 18.05.2001 Delta 2
    NROL-18 USA-173 "Libra" 02.12.2003 Atlas 2AS AC-164
    NROL-19 USA-171 Adv. Orion 09.09.2003 Titan 4B B-36
    NROL-20 USA-186 Imp.Crystal 19.10.2005 Titan 4B B-26
    NROL-21 USA-193 14.12.2006 Delta 7920
    NROL-22 USA-184 Trumpet 28.06.2006 Delta 4M+(4.2)
    NROL-23 USA-181 "Canis Minor" 03.02.2005 Atlas 3B AC-206
    NROL-24 USA-198 "Scorpius" 10.12.2007 Atlas V401
    NROL-25 planned
    NROL-26 planned
    NROL-27 planned
    NROL-28 USA-200 Trumpet 13.03.2008 Atlas V 411 
    NROL-29 planned
    NROL-30 USA-194 "Pixis" 15.06.2007 Atlas V401

    I think that it's very probable that
    USA-133 Lacrosse  24.10.1997  Titan IVA  was NROL-3.


    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #38 on: 06/02/2008 09:36 AM »
    I think that it's very probable that
    USA-133 Lacrosse  24.10.1997  Titan IVA  was NROL-3.

    I agree that it is probable, but it is not definite. These things do move around - look at L-1.
    « Last Edit: 06/02/2008 09:36 AM by GW_Simulations »

    Offline William Graham

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    Re: NROL codenames
    « Reply #39 on: 08/04/2009 04:46 PM »
    NRO L-49 patch has just appeared on ebay:
    http://www.webcitation.org/5imPuwg3q (I've archived the URL as ebay don't keep pages for too long).

    Much more interesting than some of the recent ones in terms of "clues" to the payload. A bird (presumably a phoenix) is rising out of a fire at the bottom of the patch. Fourteen stars are clearly visible, ten on a US flag in the background, and four at the bottom of the patch. What I believe is a fifteenth star is partially obscured by the bird's wing. In addition, one of the stars on the US flag appears to be in the bird's beak. The words "melior diabolus quem scies" appear at the top of the patch, which roughly translate as "better the devil you know".

    My own assessment of this would be that the phoenix symbolises the NRO's optical reconnaissance programme "rising out of the ashes" of FIA. As I stated previously, it was reported that Improved Crystal production was restarted when FIA was cancelled, and I had previously suspected that L-49 might be an Improved Crystal. The latin phrase seems to support this theory. Also, if this is an Improved Crystal, it would be the fifteenth launch of a KH-11 series satellite (including the ones sometimes identified as KH-12, and excluding both Misty satellites). One of the earlier KH-11 launches failed, so the fifteen stars could represent the fifteen launches, with the obscured one representing the failure. The star that appears to be in the bird's beak could represent NRO L-49, being "carried" to orbit (I'm fairly sure that symbolism has been used before). Finally, the shape of the phoenix's wings is similar to the shape of a symbol which appeared on the NRO L-14 patch, which is believed to have been an Improved Crystal launch.

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