Author Topic: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA  (Read 9787 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #20 on: 03/06/2017 06:41 PM »
Because of its origins do you think we will see any pictures of it before launch?

There is an odd and confusing story about these satellites. Back in 1998 the NRO rather unexpectedly allowed a film crew to show one in the final stages of assembly. They also released still photos of it both in the clean room and in a deployed configuration (that was photoshopped to depict it in orbit). I later filed a FOIA request for images of the antenna deployment sequence and got it. So they have released photos and a diagram before. But they then obviously changed their policy after 1998 and decided to release no more info.

Offline Star One

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #21 on: 03/06/2017 07:18 PM »
Because of its origins do you think we will see any pictures of it before launch?

There is an odd and confusing story about these satellites. Back in 1998 the NRO rather unexpectedly allowed a film crew to show one in the final stages of assembly. They also released still photos of it both in the clean room and in a deployed configuration (that was photoshopped to depict it in orbit). I later filed a FOIA request for images of the antenna deployment sequence and got it. So they have released photos and a diagram before. But they then obviously changed their policy after 1998 and decided to release no more info.

Is that about the same time that they released an image of part of a Lacrosse satellite?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #22 on: 03/06/2017 07:53 PM »
Because of its origins do you think we will see any pictures of it before launch?

There is an odd and confusing story about these satellites. Back in 1998 the NRO rather unexpectedly allowed a film crew to show one in the final stages of assembly. They also released still photos of it both in the clean room and in a deployed configuration (that was photoshopped to depict it in orbit). I later filed a FOIA request for images of the antenna deployment sequence and got it. So they have released photos and a diagram before. But they then obviously changed their policy after 1998 and decided to release no more info.

Is that about the same time that they released an image of part of a Lacrosse satellite?

Yeah. It was a CBS Evening News program. They showed off both satellites. Totally shocking to me. Dunno why they did that. I think the then-director of the NRO wanted to make their activities more open. And then they decided to not do that anymore.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #23 on: 03/06/2017 08:14 PM »
An image that Jim linked to. Note that they were obviously giving a tour. There's a big satellite reconnaissance photo on display at right. And there were two placards in front of the satellite that have been blanked out. Probably said that the satellite is called and what it does.

Offline gosnold

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #24 on: 03/06/2017 08:33 PM »
That's a lot of antennas. I would have expected one for talking to the satellite and on for the ground station. Any ides why there are more?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #25 on: 03/06/2017 10:36 PM »
That's a lot of antennas. I would have expected one for talking to the satellite and on for the ground station. Any ides why there are more?

Crosslinks. It could talk to multiple other relay satellites. So imagine putting four satellites in GEO spaced equidistantly around the equator. Each one talks to its two neighbors, plus it has a dish for talking to the ground and another one for talking to a satellite in LEO (or even more than one LEO satellite). That's four dishes right there.

I have a schematic showing antenna deployment on these satellites. Everything moves out a little bit from the tucked-in position.
« Last Edit: 03/06/2017 11:09 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Jim

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #26 on: 03/07/2017 12:13 AM »
That's a lot of antennas. I would have expected one for talking to the satellite and on for the ground station. Any ides why there are more?

"The Air Force Satellite Communications System (AFSATCOM) was one such protected system. Designed in the mid-1960s, these payloads were hosted on several satellite systems, including FLTSATCOM and DSCS. Early North-polar region coverage was provided with payloads hosted on satellites in high-inclination orbits."

Also, AFSCN  and Thule relay


Offline edkyle99

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #27 on: 03/07/2017 12:34 AM »
Because of its origins do you think we will see any pictures of it before launch?

There is an odd and confusing story about these satellites. Back in 1998 the NRO rather unexpectedly allowed a film crew to show one in the final stages of assembly. They also released still photos of it both in the clean room and in a deployed configuration (that was photoshopped to depict it in orbit). I later filed a FOIA request for images of the antenna deployment sequence and got it. So they have released photos and a diagram before. But they then obviously changed their policy after 1998 and decided to release no more info.
If the antennas were "photoshopped", isn't it possible that the depicted array had nothing to do with reality?  It does look a bit goofy to me on first examination.

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Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #28 on: 03/07/2017 01:26 AM »
Because of its origins do you think we will see any pictures of it before launch?

There is an odd and confusing story about these satellites. Back in 1998 the NRO rather unexpectedly allowed a film crew to show one in the final stages of assembly. They also released still photos of it both in the clean room and in a deployed configuration (that was photoshopped to depict it in orbit). I later filed a FOIA request for images of the antenna deployment sequence and got it. So they have released photos and a diagram before. But they then obviously changed their policy after 1998 and decided to release no more info.
If the antennas were "photoshopped", isn't it possible that the depicted array had nothing to do with reality?  It does look a bit goofy to me on first examination.

 - Ed Kyle

No. There are something like 3-4 photos showing the antennas in stowed condition. Plus, as I noted, I have a schematic showing the antenna deployment. I don't think that the antennas were photoshopped--they took a photo of the satellite with the antennas extended, and photoshopped it against an Earth/space background to show what it would look like in orbit.

Also, if you look closely at the base of the antenna farm, you see a square platform that looks a lot like the square platform included in the illustration. Same satellite.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 01:32 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Danderman

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #29 on: 03/07/2017 01:33 AM »
The HS-376 bus is really old, and I am not sure if it would be cost effective to try to use this. There may be no one left at Boeing who would know how to fix it.

Offline Jim

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #30 on: 03/07/2017 01:47 AM »
The HS-376 bus is really old, and I am not sure if it would be cost effective to try to use this. There may be no one left at Boeing who would know how to fix it.


It isn't a 376 bus but the 389

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #31 on: 03/07/2017 02:41 AM »
Can I ask why everyone seems to be hung up on this being a GSO bird? Of the four SDS-2 launched, only one went to GSO. The other three went to inclined 12 hour Molniya orbits. A Molniya orbits is more difficult in terms of the radiation environment (two passes a day through the Van Allen belts), constant changing geometry with the ground stations, and a more difficult earth tracking problem with the earth constantly changing size.

Honestly I can think of several uses if placed in a Molniya orbit.
*Polar com relay for artic research.
*Extended views of the northern lights.
*A commercial use might be providing internet on commercial flights that overfly the poles. Most com. services use satellites in GSO. It could fill a gap, though ideally you want at least two satellites.

I wonder if a Tundra orbit would be viable.

A more fun question would be, what if any differences existed between the Molniya and GSO SDS-2 birds.
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Offline Danderman

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #32 on: 03/07/2017 03:06 AM »
The question is what NASA could do with this relic, not what some random commercial operator could do.

Like many here, I think that using this for a lunar orbital relay in some sort of high lunar polar orbit would be interesting.

« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 03:06 AM by Danderman »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #33 on: 03/07/2017 04:48 AM »
Because of the Boeing reorganization and facility consolidation through 2020, there are other surplus/spare satellites that have never flown are soon to be moved out of storage and offered to agencies such as NASA in the near future.

Offline Star One

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #34 on: 03/07/2017 05:56 AM »
Because of the Boeing reorganization and facility consolidation through 2020, there are other surplus/spare satellites that have never flown are soon to be moved out of storage and offered to agencies such as NASA in the near future.

I am going to guess all government (military) ones as I can't imagine commercial entities just leaving payloads on the ground unflown.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #35 on: 03/07/2017 06:49 AM »
Only those qualified to prepare / flight qualify this for launch could process it, and likewise few would possess the resources to operate it. Those that would able to do it when it was built in the 1980's, would likely be retired if still alive.

Am at a loss to have any idea what to do with such other than decorate a museum.

In its prime, yes you just might be able to use the steerable high gain antenna clusters to a re-purposed need. It might be made to function in a harsher thermal/radiation environment. Could see how one could modify the earth orientation attitude sensors/control to maintain attitude around Moon/Mars. Could modify operations to support such roles. Could alter the hga/amplfiers/... for the new application, perhaps the feeds too. But then it would have to be put through the validation/qualification/frameworks and thermal/vac/spin, with all the hardware and update support harness/control. All that stuff has probably been gone for over a decade.

Next, how do you get it there? Spinners usually are spun up and injected with a PAM that's discarded, and then its own propulsion is used to coax it into the correct slot. And the spinner needs to spin to function, so in the "cruise" it will have to spin, and yet to enter Moon/Mars orbit (Mars would need star trackers, with the Moon you could do am orientation handoff) you'll need to brake/circularize, in addition to considerable station keeping props requirements.

You might finesse the Moon, but usually you'd require a full up cruise stage to make Mars.

Now, for Arctic/Antarctic coverage, that's a similar mission, but are the ground stations and channels like what you'd wish to support? Is the cost of maintaining such antiques worthwhile? Is there enough excess bandwidth and adjacency from commercial SSO operators that might be used as a relay?


Offline Star One

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #36 on: 03/07/2017 10:03 AM »
Only those qualified to prepare / flight qualify this for launch could process it, and likewise few would possess the resources to operate it. Those that would able to do it when it was built in the 1980's, would likely be retired if still alive.

Am at a loss to have any idea what to do with such other than decorate a museum.

In its prime, yes you just might be able to use the steerable high gain antenna clusters to a re-purposed need. It might be made to function in a harsher thermal/radiation environment. Could see how one could modify the earth orientation attitude sensors/control to maintain attitude around Moon/Mars. Could modify operations to support such roles. Could alter the hga/amplfiers/... for the new application, perhaps the feeds too. But then it would have to be put through the validation/qualification/frameworks and thermal/vac/spin, with all the hardware and update support harness/control. All that stuff has probably been gone for over a decade.

Next, how do you get it there? Spinners usually are spun up and injected with a PAM that's discarded, and then its own propulsion is used to coax it into the correct slot. And the spinner needs to spin to function, so in the "cruise" it will have to spin, and yet to enter Moon/Mars orbit (Mars would need star trackers, with the Moon you could do am orientation handoff) you'll need to brake/circularize, in addition to considerable station keeping props requirements.

You might finesse the Moon, but usually you'd require a full up cruise stage to make Mars.

Now, for Arctic/Antarctic coverage, that's a similar mission, but are the ground stations and channels like what you'd wish to support? Is the cost of maintaining such antiques worthwhile? Is there enough excess bandwidth and adjacency from commercial SSO operators that might be used as a relay?

You would hope that NASA would have considered all this before putting out the request.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #37 on: 03/07/2017 11:13 AM »
Because of the Boeing reorganization and facility consolidation through 2020, there are other surplus/spare satellites that have never flown are soon to be moved out of storage and offered to agencies such as NASA in the near future.

I am going to guess all government (military) ones as I can't imagine commercial entities just leaving payloads on the ground unflown.

I would not make that assumption. It is possible some commercial entities purchased a spare and held it in storage in case of a launch accident or on orbit failure. One of the Sirius XM satellites ended up in the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Museum because the merger of the two companies made it excess. That one was sitting around somewhere before they donated and took the tax write-off.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #38 on: 03/07/2017 11:14 AM »
The question is what NASA could do with this relic, not what some random commercial operator could do.

Like many here, I think that using this for a lunar orbital relay in some sort of high lunar polar orbit would be interesting.



Note that the Science Mission Directorate put out the solicitation, so they are looking for science missions.

There's nothing at the Moon right now that needs relaying. There is not going to be anything at the Moon that needs relaying.

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: NSTP-Sat: more NRO surplus going to NASA
« Reply #39 on: 03/07/2017 01:14 PM »
Because of the Boeing reorganization and facility consolidation through 2020, there are other surplus/spare satellites that have never flown are soon to be moved out of storage and offered to agencies such as NASA in the near future.

I am going to guess all government (military) ones as I can't imagine commercial entities just leaving payloads on the ground unflown.

I would not make that assumption. It is possible some commercial entities purchased a spare and held it in storage in case of a launch accident or on orbit failure. One of the Sirius XM satellites ended up in the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Museum because the merger of the two companies made it excess. That one was sitting around somewhere before they donated and took the tax write-off.

Also there are satellites left over from failed ventures. Boeing has (or had) several ICO satellites from the ICO MEO constellation in various stages of completion. I do not know, what has happened to these. Also there is the completed, but never launched AfriStar 2 (ex AmeriStar ex CaribStar) of WorldSpace.

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