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stasisLAX
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1st Of 4 NRO Spy Satellites Launched At Vandenburg

Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:26 pm

An unmanned rocket blasted off from Vandenburg AFB along the California coast on April 3 carrying a clandestine new generation spy satellite for the U.S. military. Unlike many of the South Base launch pads, Vandenburg's SLC-6 launch pad is tucked into a valley and not visible for spectators, at least in the liftoff phase.

The United Launch Alliance (Boeing and Lockheed-Martin) Delta 4 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12 p.m. PDT (2312 GMT) on a mission to orbit a highly classified satellite, called NROL-25, for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. This was an important launch for the Delta 4 program since it was the first to launch using a version of the booster called the "Delta 4 Medium-plus 5,2 configuration, which uses a common Delta 4 core flanked by twin solid rocket boosters and topped with a 5-meter fairing to cover the satellite payload." There are 3 other NRO satellite launches scheduled for this year, all thought to be next-generation radar imaging satellites, replacing several older, less advanced, and heavier radar recon satellites that the NRO had been utilizing.

Nice to see that the updates to the Delta 4 seems to have worked perfectly!

Source: http://www.space.com/15153-rocket-la...-secret-spy-satellite-nrol-25.html
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aklrno
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RE: 1st Of 4 NRO Spy Satellites Launched At Vandenburg

Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:16 pm

Does anyone know who made the satellite? I don't see that mentioned in any articles.

The launch pad may be impossible to see at launch time, but before that it is clearly visible from the Coast Daylight train that runs right through Vandenberg only a few hundred feet from SLC-6. It's a great ride anyway, and the views in Vandenberg are a plus. I guess they have to cancel or reroute the trains when a rocket is fueled and waiting to go. The rail line snakes through several launch complexes.
 
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Stitch
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RE: 1st Of 4 NRO Spy Satellites Launched At Vandenburg

Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:29 am

Quoting aklrno (Reply 1):
Does anyone know who made the satellite? I don't see that mentioned in any articles.

I expect it would be Lockheed-Martin, though as a radar imaging bird it might be a Boeing. After Boeing blew the budget on the Future Imagery Architecture program, the government killed it and had Lockheed-Martin take over with improved versions of their pre-existing designs. Boeing still had the Radar Imaging satellite contract after that, but USA-193 is said to have been an LM bird using Boeing's FIA radar design.

[Edited 2012-04-05 20:09:50]
 
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RE: 1st Of 4 NRO Spy Satellites Launched At Vandenburg

Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:13 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 2):

Should be Lockheed-Martin. After Boeing blew the budget on the Future Imagery Architecture program, the government killed it and had Lockheed-Martin take over with improved versions of their pre-existing designs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Imagery_Architecture and other sources say that while LM was given the optical part of FIA, Boeing was allowed to continue with the radar portion, and this launch (NROL-25) is the second in the series of Boeing's radar based FIA birds.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/...h-nrol-25-military-satellite-vafb/ is a good read too. It's amazing how many different kinds of satellites there are in orbit: signal relay, signal intelligence, electro-optical imaging, radar imaging, missile launch detection, weather, GPS, etc. Most of these have iterated through various generations, as have their launch vehicles.
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