Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION  (Read 235265 times)

Offline Jarnis

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #240 on: 04/28/2017 08:10 AM »
Could this be a NRO validation flight? So no real payload but some dummy satellite. The purpose would be to establish and validate all the NRO requirements on SpaceX. Can SpaceX actually guarantee the secrecy required for an NRO mission or is there some leak?

I doubt even NRO has the money to just send up a dummy payload.

An experimental payload - high risk, low price - is far more likely. So, a real payload but something that doesn't matter that much if something goes wrong (or leaks). Checking out SpaceX procedures "for reals" in preparation of future missions? Maybe a secondary objective.
I very much doubt that leaks on even an experimental payload would be tolerated.

Oh quite true, but it would not be the end of the world. Most likely it would just end up SpaceX getting the boot as a contractor and hefty fines to the guilty party. Experimental payload, experimental launch, experimenting with a provider before Serious Business payloads are manifested.


Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #241 on: 04/28/2017 12:18 PM »
Could this be a NRO validation flight? So no real payload but some dummy satellite. The purpose would be to establish and validate all the NRO requirements on SpaceX. Can SpaceX actually guarantee the secrecy required for an NRO mission or is there some leak?

No need for such.

Online Ben the Space Brit

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #242 on: 04/28/2017 01:21 PM »
More tea-leaf reading:

The Molniya-type orbit would leave the spacecraft over the poles for long periods. Could this be a reconsat intended to keep watch on clandestine military and economic activity in the Arctic Sea? We know that the Russians have been proposing industrialise the northern polar areas for some time and it isn't unreasonable to want to keep watch on these developments.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #243 on: 04/28/2017 01:53 PM »
If it is a higher-thrust Falcon 9, pucker up!  Max-Q and landing with higher-thrust engines for the first time.  Etc. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Offline stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #245 on: 04/28/2017 02:20 PM »
If it is a higher-thrust Falcon 9, pucker up!  Max-Q and landing with higher-thrust engines for the first time.  Etc. 

 - Ed Kyle

You have confirmation of this?

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #246 on: 04/28/2017 02:28 PM »
If it is a higher-thrust Falcon 9, pucker up!  Max-Q and landing with higher-thrust engines for the first time.  Etc. 

 - Ed Kyle

You have confirmation of this?
Ed said "If".

Landing might actually be easier, as better launch performance will reserve more fuel for landing. I've seen no reason to believe that the minimum thrust is higher, even if the maximum thrust is higher.

Offline stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #247 on: 04/28/2017 02:45 PM »
If it is a higher-thrust Falcon 9, pucker up!  Max-Q and landing with higher-thrust engines for the first time.  Etc. 

You have confirmation of this?
Ed said "If".

Landing might actually be easier, as better launch performance will reserve more fuel for landing. I've seen no reason to believe that the minimum thrust is higher, even if the maximum thrust is higher.

Ah, you're right. I completely missed the "if". I think the earlier MECO might be explainable by a different throttle profile as compared to CRS RTLS missions.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #248 on: 04/28/2017 03:07 PM »
More tea-leaf reading:

The Molniya-type orbit would leave the spacecraft over the poles for long periods. Could this be a reconsat intended to keep watch on clandestine military and economic activity in the Arctic Sea? We know that the Russians have been proposing industrialise the northern polar areas for some time and it isn't unreasonable to want to keep watch on these developments.

Molniya/Trunda orbits are two high over the poles for anything optical (early warning (SBIRS) and weather being the obvious exception). So that would leave SIGINT and communications. For a Molniya orbit that brings us back to SDS or some new SIGINT payload...

No one knows of any SBIRS HEO in the works, right?

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Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #249 on: 04/28/2017 03:10 PM »
More tea-leaf reading:

The Molniya-type orbit would leave the spacecraft over the poles for long periods. Could this be a reconsat intended to keep watch on clandestine military and economic activity in the Arctic Sea? We know that the Russians have been proposing industrialise the northern polar areas for some time and it isn't unreasonable to want to keep watch on these developments.

I still think it's more likely to be a Quasar being placed in that kind of orbit to support the next generation KH-11 that are believed to start being orbited in the near future.

Be interesting to see if NROL-52 is another Quasar.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 03:13 PM by Star One »

Offline input~2

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #250 on: 04/28/2017 03:37 PM »
WESTERN NORTH ATLANTIC.
FLORIDA.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS 301055Z TO 301354Z APR,
ALTERNATE 011055Z TO 011354Z MAY
IN AREA BOUND BY
28-39N 080-39W, 30-34N 078-45W,
31-32N 077-34W, 31-26N 077-13W,
31-06N 077-11W, 30-47N 077-32W,
30-08N 078-26W, 28-29N 080-21W,
28-26N 080-27W, 28-25N 080-35W,
28-25N 080-38W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 011454Z MAY 17.//

Authority: EASTERN RANGE 211830Z APR 17.

Date: 271553Z APR 17
Cancel: 01145400 May 17


SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN.
DNC 02, DNC 03.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS 301055Z TO 301354Z APR,
ALTERNATE 011055Z TO 011354Z MAY
IN AREA BOUND BY
30-31S 038-04E, 30-40S 040-19E,
40-11S 060-06E, 47-31S 080-01E,
48-56S 079-46E, 49-00S 075-21E,
47-12S 063-50E, 41-51S 049-33E,
35-39S 040-15E, 32-07S 037-37E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 011454Z MAY 17.//

Authority: EASTERN RANGE 211830Z APR 17.

Date: 271617Z APR 17
Cancel: 01145400 May 17

Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #251 on: 04/28/2017 03:44 PM »
More tea-leaf reading:

The Molniya-type orbit would leave the spacecraft over the poles for long periods. Could this be a reconsat intended to keep watch on clandestine military and economic activity in the Arctic Sea? We know that the Russians have been proposing industrialise the northern polar areas for some time and it isn't unreasonable to want to keep watch on these developments.

Molniya/Trunda orbits are two high over the poles for anything optical (early warning (SBIRS) and weather being the obvious exception). So that would leave SIGINT and communications. For a Molniya orbit that brings us back to SDS or some new SIGINT payload...

No one knows of any SBIRS HEO in the works, right?


Would they be using it for polar sub comms?

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #252 on: 04/28/2017 04:11 PM »
If it is a higher-thrust Falcon 9, pucker up!  Max-Q and landing with higher-thrust engines for the first time.  Etc. 

You have confirmation of this?
Ed said "If".

Landing might actually be easier, as better launch performance will reserve more fuel for landing. I've seen no reason to believe that the minimum thrust is higher, even if the maximum thrust is higher.

Ah, you're right. I completely missed the "if". I think the earlier MECO might be explainable by a different throttle profile as compared to CRS RTLS missions.
I'm not sure what to think.  The Orbcomm OG2 flight featured RTLS and its first stage burned for 2 minutes 20 seconds (according to the press kit).   The deployed payloads only weighed about 1.9 tonnes, but the orbit was higher than Dragon insertions (620 x 660 km x 47 deg). 

The CRS RTLS missions saw the first stage burn for 2 min 21 sec with a probably 9-ish tonne payload.  Those insertion orbits are typicaly 200 x 360 km  x 51.6 deg.   So, not much of a burn time difference despite the payload mass difference. 

Now we have NROL 76 with a shortest-ever 2 min 17 sec burn.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 04:12 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #253 on: 04/28/2017 04:25 PM »
I'm not sure what to think.  The Orbcomm OG2 flight featured RTLS and its first stage burned for 2 minutes 20 seconds (according to the press kit).   The deployed payloads only weighed about 1.9 tonnes, but the orbit was higher than Dragon insertions (620 x 660 km x 47 deg). 

The CRS RTLS missions saw the first stage burn for 2 min 21 sec with a probably 9-ish tonne payload.  Those insertion orbits are typicaly 200 x 360 km  x 51.6 deg.   So, not much of a burn time difference despite the payload mass difference. 

Now we have NROL 76 with a shortest-ever 2 min 17 sec burn.

I'm not prophet, but that seems to suggest uprated engines. They're dumping fuel a lot faster.

Offline stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #254 on: 04/28/2017 04:44 PM »
The CRS RTLS missions saw the first stage burn for 2 min 21 sec with a probably 9-ish tonne payload.  Those insertion orbits are typicaly 200 x 360 km  x 51.6 deg.   So, not much of a burn time difference despite the payload mass difference. 

Now we have NROL 76 with a shortest-ever 2 min 17 sec burn.

CRS missions throttle down at Max-Q which would add a few seconds (how many?) to the overall burn compared to a launch w/o a throttle down.

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #255 on: 04/28/2017 04:49 PM »
I highly doubt they use a NRO payload on the first launch of uprated engines / Block 4
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 05:42 PM by Johnnyhinbos »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #256 on: 04/28/2017 05:36 PM »
I highly doubt they use a NRO payload on the first launch of updated engines / Block 4
Why not?  NROL was first to use upgraded RS-68A engines, etc.

 - Ed Kyle

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #257 on: 04/28/2017 06:51 PM »
I highly doubt they use a NRO payload on the first launch of updated engines / Block 4
Why not?  NROL was first to use upgraded RS-68A engines, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Because it needed it.  Is anyone really suggesting this payload needs uprated thrust?

In fact, the RS-68A was specifically uprated for the payload in question:
Quote
Three RS-68As first flew in June, 2012 on the triple bodied Delta IV Heavy launch of the National Reconnaissance Office NRO-15 spacecraft to geosynchronous orbit.

NRO-15 is a massive electronic intelligence satellite with an eavesdropping antenna spanning up to 360 ft. (110 m). The uprated A version of the RS-68 was developed specifically for this mission and similar giant NRO antennas to follow. The A version will now be used on all Delta IVís allowing ULA to standardize the assembly and internal structure of all the Common Booster Cores (CBCs) used by the launcher.
Source: http://www.americaspace.com/2015/07/24/delta-iv-using-upgraded-rs-68a-engine-launches-advanced-usaf-wgs-7-satcom/
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 06:59 PM by abaddon »

Offline ChrisGebhardt

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #258 on: 04/28/2017 07:37 PM »
I highly doubt they use a NRO payload on the first launch of updated engines / Block 4
Why not?  NROL was first to use upgraded RS-68A engines, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
Because it needed it.  Is anyone really suggesting this payload needs uprated thrust?

In fact, the RS-68A was specifically uprated for the payload in question:
Quote
Three RS-68As first flew in June, 2012 on the triple bodied Delta IV Heavy launch of the National Reconnaissance Office NRO-15 spacecraft to geosynchronous orbit.

NRO-15 is a massive electronic intelligence satellite with an eavesdropping antenna spanning up to 360 ft. (110 m). The uprated A version of the RS-68 was developed specifically for this mission and similar giant NRO antennas to follow. The A version will now be used on all Delta IVís allowing ULA to standardize the assembly and internal structure of all the Common Booster Cores (CBCs) used by the launcher.
Source: http://www.americaspace.com/2015/07/24/delta-iv-using-upgraded-rs-68a-engine-launches-advanced-usaf-wgs-7-satcom/

Haven't seen anyone on this thread suggesting NRO-76 needs upgraded thrust.  But the point of the RS-68As for NRO-15 proves that the NRO is not adverse to flying on the first mission using upgraded engines/thrust.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 07:37 PM by ChrisGebhardt »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #259 on: 04/28/2017 07:45 PM »
I'm not sure what to think.  The Orbcomm OG2 flight featured RTLS and its first stage burned for 2 minutes 20 seconds (according to the press kit).   The deployed payloads only weighed about 1.9 tonnes, but the orbit was higher than Dragon insertions (620 x 660 km x 47 deg). 

The CRS RTLS missions saw the first stage burn for 2 min 21 sec with a probably 9-ish tonne payload.  Those insertion orbits are typicaly 200 x 360 km  x 51.6 deg.   So, not much of a burn time difference despite the payload mass difference. 

Now we have NROL 76 with a shortest-ever 2 min 17 sec burn.

I'm not prophet, but that seems to suggest uprated engines. They're dumping fuel a lot faster.

IF the difference is in fact due to a thrust increase, that would be about a 3% thrust increase (137 seconds vs 141 seconds burn time), assuming same quantity of propellant burned.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 07:48 PM by Kabloona »

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