Re: NRO Launch from Vandenberg

Message posted by Peter Merlin on August 29, 2013 at 20:42:06 PST:

Tony Moore and I went up there for the launch. It was awesome.

The size of the rocket and its payload shroud provided some general indication of the spacecraft’s size, and the launch trajectory indicated an orbital inclination of around 97 degrees. These factors and the launch time suggested to some that this was the final launch of a KH-11 optical surveillance satellite.

It has been long suspected that the NRO ordered two of these spacecraft after the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) program’s planned KH-11 successor was canceled in 2005 due to delays and cost overruns. The NRO was then forced to use one remaining KH-11 and build another from spare parts. The first of those two satellites, NROL-49, was reportedly launched from Vandenberg on a Delta IV-Heavy in January 2011. We were there for that one, too.

In Reply to: Re: NRO Launch from Vandenberg posted by ron on August 29, 2013 at 9:54:31 PST:


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