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NRO Spacecraft In Wrong Orbit
Aviation Week & Space Technology ^ | Jun 15, 2007 | Craig Covault

Posted on 06/16/2007 1:38:50 AM PDT by anymouse

Two top secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) ocean surveillance spacecraft were fired into the wrong orbit June 15 when the 200-foot-tall Atlas V rocket they were riding on stopped firing too early in space following launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The top secret satellites separated safely from the malfunctioning booster, however, and have enough rocket propellant to continue their mission, an official said on background.

The U.S. Air Force, which managed the Atlas V launch, and the NRO have begun an official investigation into the launch and malfunction. The $83 million Atlas V used in the launch is a model 401 with no solid rocket boosters.

"The Atlas V people have a lot of explaining to do," the official said on background. The flight was the first NRO secret mission for the new Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.

The two spacecraft are critical to tracking ships that may conceal al Qaeda terrorists. The new spacecraft will also track Iranian and Chinese sea-based military operations.

The Atlas V is built by Lockheed Martin and uses a Lockheed Martin Centaur upper stage with a Pratt & Whitney RL10 rocket engine powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. United Launch Alliance (ULA) now runs the Atlas program and managed the launch in conjunction with NRO and the Air Force's 45th Space Wing that operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Atlas V first stage powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene fired normally and then fell away. The Centaur was then ignited for the first of two firings. Two cameras on board the Centaur radioed back spectacular real-time images of the first stage falling away and ignition of the Centaur against a vivid blue Earth horizon. The vehicle flew north off the U.S. east coast toward a high-inclination orbit.

The Centaur completed the first firing normally to place the spacecraft in a correct initial orbit. The vehicle then coasted about halfway around the world where the Centaur RL10 engine was fired a second time about an hour after liftoff.

This time, however, the Centaur did not fire for as long as it was scheduled to. The exact parameters involved are still secret.

The spacecraft may have to use their onboard propellant to maneuver into a higher orbit, which could affect their mission life. Whether that is the case is still being determined by NRO.

It is not yet known whether the malfunction occurred in the engine itself or in electronics associated with the engine and overall stage.

The flight lifted off from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape at 11:12 a.m. EDT.

An unrelated NRO spacecraft was lost in late 2006 after it was launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta II rocket. But that spacecraft, involved with the Future Imaging Architecture program, had a serious malfunction of its own.


TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Technical; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: atlasv; centaur; gwot; looselipssinkships; nro; rocket; satellite; secret; space; topsecret; ula; unitedlaunchalliance; usaf; wot
Somebody is in real trouble. EELV, literally "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."
1 posted on 06/16/2007 1:38:53 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: anymouse

Our plan is coming together.

2 posted on 06/16/2007 1:50:32 AM PDT by anymouse
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Good thing this isn’t top secret.


3 posted on 06/16/2007 1:54:06 AM PDT by D-fendr
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To: D-fendr

BIG DITTO.


4 posted on 06/16/2007 2:01:55 AM PDT by Cindy
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To: anymouse

Are you Jimmy Breslin?


5 posted on 06/16/2007 2:10:29 AM PDT by Nitro (A)
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To: anymouse
ALLAH did it, this has ALLAH's fingerprints all over it, ALLAH p3wned all infidel satellites
6 posted on 06/16/2007 2:42:26 AM PDT by greedo
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To: anymouse
The Russians used to fly into Washington on Aeroflot, and fly back to Moscow while translating Aviation Week magazine.
7 posted on 06/16/2007 3:26:23 AM PDT by Does so
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To: anymouse
It wasn't the pre-flight inspectors fault.


8 posted on 06/16/2007 4:18:21 AM PDT by diverteach
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To: anymouse

I for one, think it is very cool that National Review Online has its own spy satellite.


9 posted on 06/16/2007 4:20:17 AM PDT by sittnick (There is no salvation in politics.)
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To: anymouse
"The Atlas V people have a lot of explaining to do," the official said on background.

Not half as much as the NRO official or contractor who leaked the status of a Top Secret mission. I'm sure our enemies will also be curious about the status of these satellites.

10 posted on 06/16/2007 4:51:35 AM PDT by burzum (None shall see me, though my battlecry may give me away -Minsc)
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To: anymouse
Two top secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) ocean surveillance spacecraft were fired into the wrong orbit June 15 ... "The Atlas V people have a lot of explaining to do," the official said on background.

Lighten up Frances, it's not like it's Rocket Science.

Oh, wait a sec......


11 posted on 06/16/2007 4:53:44 AM PDT by Condor51 (Rudy makes John Kerry look like a Right Wing 'Gun Nut' Extremist)
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To: anymouse

Considering who the client is, our adversaries (and some of our friends) probably believe this is all disinformation.


12 posted on 06/16/2007 4:59:48 AM PDT by leadpenny
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To: Does so
and fly back to Moscow while translating Aviation Week magazine.

Known in the aerospace industry as "Aviation Speak and Space Tattletale".....

13 posted on 06/16/2007 5:31:55 AM PDT by Thermalseeker (Just the facts ma'am)
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To: anymouse
Two top secret National Reconnaissance Office...

Top secret my ass.

However, if there's even a SHRED of truth that this mission was indeed "top secret", then everybody involved in making this information public should be incarcerated.

14 posted on 06/16/2007 5:39:15 AM PDT by Recovering Hermit (There's another old saying Senator..."Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.")
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To: Recovering Hermit

If it is the NRO then it is almost certainly Top Secret and probably also SCI. I doubt that they would hire anybody to even mop the floors at the NRO without a Top Secret-SCI clearance.


15 posted on 06/16/2007 5:46:50 AM PDT by burzum (None shall see me, though my battlecry may give me away -Minsc)
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To: anymouse

Looks like Lockheed Martin is going to have to buff up their contributions to the DNC and key democrat candidates to help this one “go away” ...sigh


16 posted on 06/16/2007 5:47:28 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: anymouse

Maybe if NASA would stop wasting their resources on Global Warming hysteria and try instead to focus on space they could begin to get it right again.


17 posted on 06/16/2007 7:00:35 AM PDT by Colorado Doug (Now I know how the Indians felt to be sold out for a few beads and trinkets)
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To: diverteach

Whoa.


18 posted on 06/16/2007 7:01:58 AM PDT by Rb ver. 2.0 (The Republican party of today is the Whig party of 1856.)
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To: Recovering Hermit

I’ve yet to see a top secret launch that was cloaked.


19 posted on 06/16/2007 7:03:25 AM PDT by Rb ver. 2.0 (The Republican party of today is the Whig party of 1856.)
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To: Rb ver. 2.0

Found one. A NRO top secret launch vehicle on the the pad shortly before lift-off.


20 posted on 06/16/2007 7:05:45 AM PDT by Rb ver. 2.0 (The Republican party of today is the Whig party of 1856.)
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To: Rb ver. 2.0
D'oh!.


21 posted on 06/16/2007 7:06:29 AM PDT by Rb ver. 2.0 (The Republican party of today is the Whig party of 1856.)
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To: anymouse
The problem is well known to us SUV drivers ... the fuel pump shut off before the Air Force completely filled the Atlas V tank because they exceeded their credit card limit.
22 posted on 06/16/2007 7:06:57 AM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: diverteach

Uh, no thanks. Women with more testerone than me are off-putting.


23 posted on 06/16/2007 9:32:58 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: burzum

All launches are public. The payload can be secret, but its orbit and mass, etc. are of record. At the UN, no less.


24 posted on 06/16/2007 9:35:47 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: anymouse

I’m still flabberghasted that they sent up the Hubble telescope with a miscut mirror. Absoltuely un-friggin-believable.


25 posted on 06/16/2007 9:38:29 AM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: leadpenny
Considering who the client is, our adversaries (and some of our friends) probably believe this is all disinformation.

Maybe. Maybe not. They'll have to check the Magic 8-Ball.

26 posted on 06/16/2007 9:40:48 AM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: anymouse
ROTFLOL!

Except that we are paying for this incompetence with our tax dollars. That ain't funny at all.

27 posted on 06/16/2007 9:42:18 AM PDT by LibKill ("RUDY GIULIANI" is just "HILLARY CLINTON" misspelled and wearing a dress.)
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To: diverteach

Nice thrusters. LOL!


28 posted on 06/16/2007 9:42:42 AM PDT by lexington minuteman 1775
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To: anymouse
The two spacecraft are critical to tracking ships that may conceal al Qaeda terrorists. The new spacecraft will also track Iranian and Chinese sea-based military operations.

Nope no connection here.
Free trade BUMP
29 posted on 06/16/2007 9:42:55 AM PDT by JamminJAY (This space for rent)
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To: burzum

If it is the NRO then it is almost certainly Top Secret and probably also SCI. I doubt that they would hire anybody to even mop the floors at the NRO without a Top Secret-SCI clearance.
_____________________________________________

I thought that mopping the floors is one of the jobs that Americans won’t do. They are mostly likely illegals mopping the floors. No wonder Bush wants to legalize them.


30 posted on 06/16/2007 9:47:34 AM PDT by racing fan (Go Team Israel!)
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To: Colorado Doug

Ya It’s funny. The guys that used these:

Slides Rule.... The good old slip stick
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/945171/posts

Could get it right never having done it before.

Yet the kids with super computers & hand helds

Can’t get the timing right or hit Mars. With everything worked out for them.


31 posted on 06/16/2007 11:02:37 AM PDT by quietolong
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To: Lancey Howard

Oh, come on. Even Jesus Christ blew one out of twelve.


32 posted on 06/16/2007 2:46:32 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: racing fan

I think that I shall never see
A thread that’s immigration-free.


33 posted on 06/16/2007 2:47:55 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse

lol


34 posted on 06/16/2007 2:48:47 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: anymouse
The flight was the first NRO secret mission for the new Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.

Well, there's your problem, we all know rockets require Intelligent Design.

35 posted on 06/16/2007 2:51:16 PM PDT by MediaMole
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To: anymouse

It sounds like a cover story to me. Most likely the writer does not know what the planned orbit was supposed to be, since that would be part of the “Top Secret” mission.

Maybe the payload(s) are still in their transfer orbits?


36 posted on 06/16/2007 2:52:20 PM PDT by the lone wolf (Good Luck, and watch out for stobor.)
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