Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION  (Read 220022 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #620 on: 05/24/2017 09:01 PM »
Would you speculate at all on your own thoughts what it might be?
I can only guess "experimental".  Beyond that I am at a loss.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #621 on: 05/24/2017 09:04 PM »
Would you speculate at all on your own thoughts what it might be?
I can only guess "experimental".  Beyond that I am at a loss.

 - Ed Kyle

The fact that Ball Aerospace was involved in this payload contract now seems like red herring as far as figuring out the payload.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #622 on: 05/25/2017 12:50 AM »
Ball has also done radar sats.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #623 on: 05/25/2017 03:47 AM »
Ball has also done radar sats.
And STPSats for the Air Force.  And SBSS.  Etc.

 - Ed Kyle

Online Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #624 on: 05/25/2017 04:13 AM »
And mason jars (does that joke ever get old? Nope.)
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Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #625 on: 05/26/2017 04:48 PM »
Cross posting this as it has only been been posted in the update thread. Strange it appears to be not far from ISS. Perhaps they need a payload that can observe space stations.

Quote
I have found that on June 4, USA 276 will in fact be very close by when (if all goes according to plan)  the SpaceX DRAGON CRS-11 should arive at the ISS at this date. That is, if USA 276 doesn't change its current orbit before then.

Quote
Due to slightly different rates of precession of their orbital nodes, the orbits will slowly diverge from their current close coincidence over time, unless USA 276 makes a corrective manoeuvre.

I have pondered the question whether this all is coincidental or not. While I can in fact think of a potential goal where this all would be on purpose, that would be a very wild thing to do, so perhaps it is not so likely. For the moment, let's better chalk it up to coincidence until new developments seem to point otherwise.

https://sattrackcam.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/observing-usa-276-odd-nrol-76-payload.html?m=1
« Last Edit: 05/26/2017 04:50 PM by Star One »

Offline kevin-rf

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Offline Star One

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Offline DavidH

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #628 on: 05/26/2017 07:38 PM »
TL;DR
Keep your posts short if you want them to be read.

Offline 4353

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #629 on: 05/27/2017 12:25 AM »
Cross posting this as it has only been been posted in the update thread. Strange it appears to be not far from ISS. Perhaps they need a payload that can observe space stations.

Quote
I have found that on June 4, USA 276 will in fact be very close by when (if all goes according to plan)  the SpaceX DRAGON CRS-11 should arive at the ISS at this date. That is, if USA 276 doesn't change its current orbit before then.

Quote
Due to slightly different rates of precession of their orbital nodes, the orbits will slowly diverge from their current close coincidence over time, unless USA 276 makes a corrective manoeuvre.

I have pondered the question whether this all is coincidental or not. While I can in fact think of a potential goal where this all would be on purpose, that would be a very wild thing to do, so perhaps it is not so likely. For the moment, let's better chalk it up to coincidence until new developments seem to point otherwise.

https://sattrackcam.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/observing-usa-276-odd-nrol-76-payload.html?m=1

Okay, throwing this out here, while fully acknowledging that the idea is quite outlandish.

The "wild" thing I have been contemplating (as mentioned on my blog quoted above), and please note that this is *very speculative* and add copious grains of salt, is that perhaps USA 276 is a technology demonstrator of a satellite designed to monitor close approaches and berthings in LEO in high detail.

The Russians and Chinese have been experimenting the past years with payloads that approach each other and perhaps grapple each other. Maybe USA 276 is a demonstrator of a satellite system meant to monitor that in detail, either optical or by radar, in order to assess what they are doing exactly.

As far as a demonstration mission (i.e. "proof of concept") goes, ISS and the frequent dockings and berthings and grapplings of cargo ships there would be good test targets, as it concerns known  situations (so make good test cases). It also means you don't have to launch test objects yourself - saves money, saves development time, and saves attention.

Still, that would be a bit of a wild thing to do, also because the ISS is not US but international, so quite sensitive to do something like this. So regard this as a *very* wild idea only - it is perhaps not at all that likely and most likely a true fidget of my imagination.

- Marco

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #630 on: 05/27/2017 12:49 AM »
Marco,

Might you be implying something along the lines of the Delta 180 Vector Sun Experiment, Delta 181 Thrust Vector Mission, and Delta 183 Delta Star missions?

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Offline Antares

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #631 on: 05/27/2017 01:52 AM »
I've entertained the idea of this being an ISS observing mission for a while, but why not just launch into an ISS compliant orbit?  NASA and USAF cooperate, and MCC-H would love to have someone looking at NH3 or other potential liberations 24/7.  Close to ISS but not ISS doesn't make sense for something looking at ISS.
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Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #632 on: 05/27/2017 05:30 AM »
I've seen it noted it's quite a bright object from the ground and therefore I wonder if it's more likely using radar to observe as it's the sun catching the array?
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 05:32 AM by Star One »

Offline gosnold

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #633 on: 05/27/2017 08:25 AM »
Okay, throwing this out here, while fully acknowledging that the idea is quite outlandish.

The "wild" thing I have been contemplating (as mentioned on my blog quoted above), and please note that this is *very speculative* and add copious grains of salt, is that perhaps USA 276 is a technology demonstrator of a satellite designed to monitor close approaches and berthings in LEO in high detail.

The Russians and Chinese have been experimenting the past years with payloads that approach each other and perhaps grapple each other. Maybe USA 276 is a demonstrator of a satellite system meant to monitor that in detail, either optical or by radar, in order to assess what they are doing exactly.

As far as a demonstration mission (i.e. "proof of concept") goes, ISS and the frequent dockings and berthings and grapplings of cargo ships there would be good test targets, as it concerns known  situations (so make good test cases). It also means you don't have to launch test objects yourself - saves money, saves development time, and saves attention.

Still, that would be a bit of a wild thing to do, also because the ISS is not US but international, so quite sensitive to do something like this. So regard this as a *very* wild idea only - it is perhaps not at all that likely and most likely a true fidget of my imagination.

- Marco

This sounds like an Air Force mission, not an NRO one. I think all missions (GSSAP, Mitex, SBSS) dedicated to observing other satellites were not NRO launches.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 08:31 AM by gosnold »

Offline 4353

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #634 on: 05/27/2017 04:23 PM »
I've seen it noted it's quite a bright object from the ground and therefore I wonder if it's more likely using radar to observe as it's the sun catching the array?

Depending on the illumination I so far have seen it at a max brightness of +1.5, but more typically +3.
on May 25-26 there was some odd brightness variation during one of the passes:
https://sattrackcam.blogspot.nl/2017/05/brightness-variation-of-usa-276-nrol-76.html

Offline 4353

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #635 on: 05/27/2017 04:40 PM »
I've entertained the idea of this being an ISS observing mission for a while, but why not just launch into an ISS compliant orbit?  NASA and USAF cooperate, and MCC-H would love to have someone looking at NH3 or other potential liberations 24/7.  Close to ISS but not ISS doesn't make sense for something looking at ISS.

It would make sense. The one degree difference in inclination between ISS and USA 276 means that twice each orbit USA 276 crosses the orbital plane of the ISS, effectively changing the view on ISS from port to starboard and vice versa.

Looking at the current orbit we have for USA 276 and looking at the situation, the thing is that such a close encounter and plane crossing happens close to the planned CRS-11 berthing time (4 June ~15:30 UT if I have understood the SpaceX bulletin correctly), with USA 276 crossing the plane of ISS from south of it to north of it near ~15:27 UT.

USA 276 would be about 1000 km in front of ISS at that moment (based on the current orbit) with ISS in sight.

So while monitoring it, it would change its observational perspective from starboard to port, i.e. allowing it to get a view of both sides of the situation.

If the current orbit does not change much, USA 276 will make a very close approach to the ISS (about 20-25 km distance) a day earlier, on 3 June near 14:02 and 14:48 UT.


Approaches to ISS to within 500 km:

  Date         UTC Time    Norad  Name                    Range (km) NdAng EphAge
 6/ 3/2017  3:13:34.46 42689 USA 276                     476.5    88.6  +7.12
 6/ 3/2017  4:01:29.55 42689 USA 276                     443.3    85.8  +7.15
 6/ 3/2017  4:46:11.37 42689 USA 276                     411.8    88.9  +7.18
 6/ 3/2017  5:33:52.79 42689 USA 276                     378.8    85.6  +7.21
 6/ 3/2017  6:18:48.31 42689 USA 276                     347.1    89.3  +7.24
 6/ 3/2017  7:06:15.94 42689 USA 276                     314.3    85.3  +7.28
 6/ 3/2017  7:51:25.27 42689 USA 276                     282.5    89.8  +7.31
 6/ 3/2017  8:38:38.97 42689 USA 276                     249.9    84.7  +7.34
 6/ 3/2017  9:24:02.27 42689 USA 276                     217.8    90.3  +7.37
 6/ 3/2017 10:11:01.90 42689 USA 276                     185.6    83.6  +7.40
 6/ 3/2017 10:56:39.29 42689 USA 276                     153.1    91.2  +7.44
 6/ 3/2017 11:43:24.71 42689 USA 276                     121.5    80.8  +7.47
 6/ 3/2017 12:29:16.34 42689 USA 276                      88.5    92.8  +7.50
 6/ 3/2017 13:15:47.41 42689 USA 276                      58.5    71.6  +7.53
 6/ 3/2017 14:01:53.42 42689 USA 276                      24.1   101.5  +7.57
 6/ 3/2017 14:48:10.00 42689 USA 276                      20.3    26.2  +7.60 *

 6/ 3/2017 15:34:30.51 42689 USA 276                      41.3    96.6  +7.63
 6/ 3/2017 16:20:32.47 42689 USA 276                      75.7    75.8  +7.66
 6/ 3/2017 17:07:07.63 42689 USA 276                     105.8    92.2  +7.69
 6/ 3/2017 17:52:54.81 42689 USA 276                     139.2    81.9  +7.73
 6/ 3/2017 18:39:44.77 42689 USA 276                     170.4    90.9  +7.76
 6/ 3/2017 19:25:17.04 42689 USA 276                     203.4    84.0  +7.79
 6/ 3/2017 20:12:21.97 42689 USA 276                     235.1    90.2  +7.82
 6/ 3/2017 20:57:39.13 42689 USA 276                     267.7    85.0  +7.85
 6/ 3/2017 21:44:59.12 42689 USA 276                     299.7    89.7  +7.89
 6/ 3/2017 22:30:01.10 42689 USA 276                     332.0    85.5  +7.92
 6/ 3/2017 23:17:36.32 42689 USA 276                     364.3    89.2  +7.95
 6/ 4/2017  0:02:22.94 42689 USA 276                     396.4    85.7  +7.98
 6/ 4/2017  0:50:13.54 42689 USA 276                     428.9    88.8  +8.02
 6/ 4/2017  1:34:44.64 42689 USA 276                     460.8    85.8  +8.05
 6/ 4/2017  2:22:50.77 42689 USA 276                     493.5    88.5  +8.08

Note that this is based on the current USA 276 orbit, which might need some adjustment by the times of the table above! certainly if it meanwhile manoeuvres. So the above table is an indication only.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 04:46 PM by 4353 »

Online ZachS09

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #636 on: 05/27/2017 05:26 PM »
I'm thinking that none of the USOS astronauts will be allowed to observe NROL-76 and describe its appearance during those close encounters.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 05:40 PM by ZachS09 »
"Liftoff of Falcon 9: the world's first reflight of an orbital-class rocket."

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #637 on: 05/27/2017 06:13 PM »
I'm thinking that none of the USOS astronauts will be allowed to observe NROL-76 and describe its appearance during those close encounters.

Aren't some of the US astronauts ex-military, could any of these have been tasked to see if they could observe it?

Online ZachS09

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #638 on: 05/27/2017 08:00 PM »
I'm thinking that none of the USOS astronauts will be allowed to observe NROL-76 and describe its appearance during those close encounters.

Aren't some of the US astronauts ex-military, could any of these have been tasked to see if they could observe it?

That's a good point, but there could be one ISS expedition where all USOS astronauts have NO military experience.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 08:00 PM by ZachS09 »
"Liftoff of Falcon 9: the world's first reflight of an orbital-class rocket."

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #639 on: 05/28/2017 07:33 PM »
An object, a few meters across doesnt look much from 25km distance. I doubt that any astronaut would be able to tell any details without magnification gear like a very good binocular or small telescope.

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