Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION  (Read 220392 times)

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #180 on: 04/20/2017 12:13 AM »
Pretty sure "stealth vehicle" was referring to the F9 and was a joke. But the stealth satellite link looks interesting...

Offline amarkit

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #181 on: 04/23/2017 02:00 PM »
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0155.html

The launch hazard chart for the region near the launch site reveals that the trajectory will follow the northeast coast
of North America; therefore, the target orbit is a quasi-60 degree LEO, or a Molniya.

http://www.patrick.af.mil/Portals/14/documents/Launch%20Hazard%20Area%20Maps/4-30-2017%20LHA.pdf?ver=2017-04-20-154754-750

Per my earlier posts in this thread, since the return of the Falcon 9's first stage is targeting the launch site, the
payload is either headed for LEO, or is a fairly low in mass and headed for Molniya.

If LEO, I suspect it is a replacement or follow-on to the experimental USA 193, which was launched on NROL-21, and
failed upon reaching its 58.5 deg, 360 km orbit.

If Molniya, then I suspect it is a new generation of SDS Molniya, built on Boeing's BSS-702SP bus.

Molniya SDS seems more likely.

Ted Molczan

Any thoughts on the possibility that this could be a NOSS / Intruder pair? They're in 63 orbits and have been launched from the Cape before (NROL-23 and -30). Or would the relatively high-LEO target orbit (1000 km) and payload mass for such a pair preclude a RTLS landing?

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #182 on: 04/23/2017 02:04 PM »
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0155.html

The launch hazard chart for the region near the launch site reveals that the trajectory will follow the northeast coast
of North America; therefore, the target orbit is a quasi-60 degree LEO, or a Molniya.

http://www.patrick.af.mil/Portals/14/documents/Launch%20Hazard%20Area%20Maps/4-30-2017%20LHA.pdf?ver=2017-04-20-154754-750

Per my earlier posts in this thread, since the return of the Falcon 9's first stage is targeting the launch site, the
payload is either headed for LEO, or is a fairly low in mass and headed for Molniya.

If LEO, I suspect it is a replacement or follow-on to the experimental USA 193, which was launched on NROL-21, and
failed upon reaching its 58.5 deg, 360 km orbit.

If Molniya, then I suspect it is a new generation of SDS Molniya, built on Boeing's BSS-702SP bus.

Molniya SDS seems more likely.

Ted Molczan

While a long shot due to the presence of NROL-79, I wonder why NOSS is eliminated from the probable list? It could be that 79 is of the older generation and 76 is a new prototype, which could theoretically explain such a scenario.

Speaking of which, where is the NRO's mission patch? Such patches are usually made public long before by now. Or will the fairing spots a huge question mark?
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #183 on: 04/23/2017 04:11 PM »
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0155.html

The launch hazard chart for the region near the launch site reveals that the trajectory will follow the northeast coast
of North America; therefore, the target orbit is a quasi-60 degree LEO, or a Molniya.

http://www.patrick.af.mil/Portals/14/documents/Launch%20Hazard%20Area%20Maps/4-30-2017%20LHA.pdf?ver=2017-04-20-154754-750

Per my earlier posts in this thread, since the return of the Falcon 9's first stage is targeting the launch site, the
payload is either headed for LEO, or is a fairly low in mass and headed for Molniya.

If LEO, I suspect it is a replacement or follow-on to the experimental USA 193, which was launched on NROL-21, and
failed upon reaching its 58.5 deg, 360 km orbit.

If Molniya, then I suspect it is a new generation of SDS Molniya, built on Boeing's BSS-702SP bus.

Molniya SDS seems more likely.

Ted Molczan

While a long shot due to the presence of NROL-79, I wonder why NOSS is eliminated from the probable list? It could be that 79 is of the older generation and 76 is a new prototype, which could theoretically explain such a scenario.

Speaking of which, where is the NRO's mission patch? Such patches are usually made public long before by now. Or will the fairing spots a huge question mark?

Following to that, I have reviewed the previous posts that Ted Molczan posted there:

http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0117.html
http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0121.html
http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0125.html
http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2017/0126.html

He linked up previous reports around late 2013, of the US government ordering 3 Boeing BSS-702SP all-electric thrusters comsat, as well as an order of the F9 before it was certified for US government payloads, with NROL-76. His speculation is that it was ordered a la PAN/CLIO, in which the satellite builder (Boeing in his theory) ordered the ride to orbit in a package deal. The direction of the launch and the capability of the F9 1st stage to RTLS with a single BSS-702SP satellite payload to GTO also fits with it.
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline William Graham

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #184 on: 04/23/2017 05:40 PM »
While a long shot due to the presence of NROL-79, I wonder why NOSS is eliminated from the probable list? It could be that 79 is of the older generation and 76 is a new prototype, which could theoretically explain such a scenario.

My main problem with it being NOSS is not how close it is to L79 per se, but rather that NOSS seems to operate with four pairs of satellites, none of which are due for replacement. A prototype could be one way to explain an out-of-sequence launch; a failing satellite or expansion of the constellation would be other explanations.

This could also explain an oddity in the ODNI budget document that Snowden leaked to the Washington Post a few years ago. This listed three pairs of satellites: Intruder 5/6; Intruder 7/8 and Intruder 11/12. There was no Intruder 9 or 10. For reasons that I intend to go over in a separate thread in the not-too-distant future, I believe each number relates to a pair of satellites, and that NROL-79 was Intruder 8. Potentially Intruder 9/10 could be funded elsewhere if they were being built for R&D. I still think it's very early to be seeing another launch as I wouldn't have expected one until around 2020/21 to replace NROL-34.


I like Ted's theory that it is a HEO Quasar. If it's a 702SP then three satellites would be enough for continuous coverage. Previous Molniya SDS launches have used a lower deployment orbit with the satellite performing orbit raising, so I wouldn't rule out a heavier satellite going to an intermediate orbit. The question is if it is a Quasar going to HEO, why now? The three most-recently-launched satellites are over nine (L-24), twelve (L-1) and nineteen (L-5) years old respectively; contemporary GEO satellites were replaced after eleven years. If they only need two satellites, the schedule's about right for replacing L-1.

LEO shouldn't be ruled out. Even if it's not some kind of L-21 followup, it could be a different demonstration mission, a new class of satellite or even a rideshare for several experimental satellites.

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #185 on: 04/23/2017 11:39 PM »
While a long shot due to the presence of NROL-79, I wonder why NOSS is eliminated from the probable list? It could be that 79 is of the older generation and 76 is a new prototype, which could theoretically explain such a scenario.

My main problem with it being NOSS is not how close it is to L79 per se, but rather that NOSS seems to operate with four pairs of satellites, none of which are due for replacement. A prototype could be one way to explain an out-of-sequence launch; a failing satellite or expansion of the constellation would be other explanations.

This could also explain an oddity in the ODNI budget document that Snowden leaked to the Washington Post a few years ago. This listed three pairs of satellites: Intruder 5/6; Intruder 7/8 and Intruder 11/12. There was no Intruder 9 or 10. For reasons that I intend to go over in a separate thread in the not-too-distant future, I believe each number relates to a pair of satellites, and that NROL-79 was Intruder 8. Potentially Intruder 9/10 could be funded elsewhere if they were being built for R&D. I still think it's very early to be seeing another launch as I wouldn't have expected one until around 2020/21 to replace NROL-34.


I like Ted's theory that it is a HEO Quasar. If it's a 702SP then three satellites would be enough for continuous coverage. Previous Molniya SDS launches have used a lower deployment orbit with the satellite performing orbit raising, so I wouldn't rule out a heavier satellite going to an intermediate orbit. The question is if it is a Quasar going to HEO, why now? The three most-recently-launched satellites are over nine (L-24), twelve (L-1) and nineteen (L-5) years old respectively; contemporary GEO satellites were replaced after eleven years. If they only need two satellites, the schedule's about right for replacing L-1.

LEO shouldn't be ruled out. Even if it's not some kind of L-21 followup, it could be a different demonstration mission, a new class of satellite or even a rideshare for several experimental satellites.

NOSS can likely be ruled out for this launch, as NOSS are operated in certain orbital planes and the launch period did not change accordingly, when NROL-76 was delayed 2 weeks.

Concerning the Quasar/702SP theory, the satellites were never ordered under commercial contracts as were the three 702SP, so i am somewhat skeptical.

Offline Rebel44

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #186 on: 04/24/2017 12:49 AM »
Any info which locations will be available for watching this launch and which ones will be closed? NASA causeway, Playalinda Beach etc. ?

Thanks
/first time I will be watching launch in person/

Online Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #187 on: 04/24/2017 01:30 AM »
Any info which locations will be available for watching this launch and which ones will be closed? NASA causeway, Playalinda Beach etc. ?

Thanks
/first time I will be watching launch in person/

Playalinda has been closed for all F9 launches from LC-39A and NROL-76 will be no different.

I would recommend Port Canaveral/Jetty Park solely for the landing experience.
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, SpaceX CRS-9, SpaceX JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, SpaceX SES-11.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #188 on: 04/24/2017 04:57 PM »
Is this normal for NROL launches?

Quote
Rocket Launch Update: No launch viewing opportunities available at #KennedySpaceCenter for #SpaceX #NROL76 NET April 30

https://twitter.com/explorespaceksc/status/856541703519571969

Offline jacqmans

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #189 on: 04/24/2017 05:17 PM »
Is this normal for NROL launches?

NO...

But it might be because of the launch time, KSC VC does not open until 9am...

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #190 on: 04/24/2017 05:43 PM »
Is this normal for NROL launches?

Quote
Rocket Launch Update: No launch viewing opportunities available at #KennedySpaceCenter for #SpaceX #NROL76 NET April 30

https://twitter.com/explorespaceksc/status/856541703519571969

NO...

But it might be because of the launch time, KSC VC does not open until 9am...

I suspect the same--Visitor Center open/close time is the determinant.  NROL-76 launch window is 7:00-9:30 am EDT; launch window opens well before the VC opens.

Which LC-39A launches thus far this year had launch opportunities from the KSC Visitor Center?

Payload             Launch, ET       KSC VC launch viewing?
CRS-10             9:39 am EST   yes--see Comga's response down-thread
EchoStar XXIII  2:00 am EDT   no?
SES-10             6:27 pm EDT   yes   Re: Launch, Land, and Relaunch Party Thread

Multiple EDITS
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 03:29 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Online Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #191 on: 04/24/2017 05:46 PM »
Is this normal for NROL launches?

NO...

But it might be because of the launch time, KSC VC does not open until 9am...

https://twitter.com/explorespaceksc/status/856541703519571969

@ExploreSpaceKSC
We are open every day. We don't provide viewing if launch is scheduled way outside of operating hours. This one is planned early AM.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2017 05:46 PM by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, SpaceX CRS-9, SpaceX JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, SpaceX SES-11.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #192 on: 04/24/2017 10:05 PM »
Thanks for the replies - too many launches, I'd got the times muddled up!

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #193 on: 04/25/2017 02:06 AM »
But it might be because of the launch time, KSC VC does not open until 9am...

I suspect the same--Visitor Center open/close time is the determinant.  NROL-76 launch window is 7:00-9:30 am EDT; launch window opens well before the VC opens.

Which LC-39A launches thus far this year had launch opportunities from the KSC Visitor Center?

Payload             Launch, ET       KSC VC launch viewing?
CRS-10             9:38 am EST  ?
EchoStar XXIII  2:00 am EDT   no?
SES-10             6:27 pm EDT  yes   Re: Launch, Land, and Relaunch Party Thread

I was there for CRS/SpX-10.
The gate at the Visitor Center opened for us at 6:30 AM.
After the abort, with the ISS orbit precessing 20 minutes earlier each day, on Sunday that gate opened at.....  7:00, which still gave us plenty of time for the 9:38 liftoff. 
It's not obvious that the Visitor Center hours are the real reason for no special viewing arrangements.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online JamesH65

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #194 on: 04/25/2017 11:53 AM »
It's not obvious that the Visitor Center hours are the real reason for no special viewing arrangements.

Apart from them tweeting that is actually the reason?

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #195 on: 04/25/2017 10:52 PM »
It's not obvious that the Visitor Center hours are the real reason for no special viewing arrangements.

Apart from them tweeting that is actually the reason?
Oh. I missed that. Sounds strange but they said it.
"Never mind!"😁
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #196 on: 04/26/2017 02:25 AM »
It's not obvious that the Visitor Center hours are the real reason for no special viewing arrangements.

Apart from them tweeting that is actually the reason?
Oh. I missed that. Sounds strange but they said it.
"Never mind!"😁
The key phrase from their tweet is "way outside".  They'll open early or stay open late...within reason.

Offline sewebster

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #197 on: 04/26/2017 06:23 AM »
The key phrase from their tweet is "way outside".  They'll open early or stay open late...within reason.

I also wouldn't be surprised if they stretched the times a bit more for NASA missions than for commercial (or NROL) launches...

Online Shanuson

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #198 on: 04/26/2017 11:00 AM »
The key phrase from their tweet is "way outside".  They'll open early or stay open late...within reason.

I also wouldn't be surprised if they stretched the times a bit more for NASA missions than for commercial (or NROL) launches...
Also if you see satelite launches every 2 weeks, it is not so much a miss when you dont open for one.
Most NASA launches are unique with larger public interest in them to allow an opening at 3am or so.
And there are other places further away were you can still see the launch from right?

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #199 on: 04/26/2017 12:26 PM »
The key phrase from their tweet is "way outside".  They'll open early or stay open late...within reason.

I also wouldn't be surprised if they stretched the times a bit more for NASA missions than for commercial (or NROL) launches...

That makes sense.
There were many NASA and contractor teams involved in the CRS/SpX-10 launch, some that had been working on parts of this mission for three decades. (SAGE-III-ISS)
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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