Suche innerhalb des Archivs / Search the Archive All words Any words

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[] Rocket hiccup puts US spy sats in wrong orbit


Rocket hiccup puts US spy sats in wrong orbit
Cockup rather than conspiracy at NRO
By Lewis Page 
Published Monday 18th June 2007 13:53 GMT

In an expensive technical mishap, a brace of top-secret American spy 
satellites was fired into incorrect orbits last Friday.

According to a report in Aviation Week and Space Technology, the two 
spacecraft in question were ultra-classified ocean surveillance jobs, 
described as "critical to tracking ships that may conceal al Qaeda 
terrorists...[or] Iranian and Chinese sea-based military operations".
Click here to find out more!

Perhaps vessels from other nations, too. The North Korean ship So San, 
seized with a hidden cargo of Scud missiles in the Indian Ocean during 
2002, was said to have been tracked by US intelligence since leaving 
home (the ship was later allowed to proceed to Yemen, after US officials 
acknowledged that the Yemenis were allowed to buy Scuds concealed under 
bags of cement if they felt like it).

Whatever it is the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) does with its 
secret spy sats, these two will apparently struggle. According to 
Aviation Week and Space Technology, the Centaur second stage of the 
Atlas V launcher failed to make its second positioning burn correctly. 
The two surveillance birds reached an orbit, but not the intended one.

It seems the two spacecraft may have to use a significant proportion of 
their manoeuvring fuel to get into a useful position, which would 
seriously affect their service life. Spy satellites need to change track 
over the Earth's surface fairly frequently in order to get a good look 
at areas of interest.

Aviation Week and Space Technology quotes an unnamed official as saying 
that "the Atlas V people have a lot of explaining to do".

The Atlas launch programme is managed by United Launch Alliance, and 
this was the first use of the Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle 
to position secret NRO satellites. The Centaur upper stage, which was 
apparently at fault, comes from Lockheed Martin and uses a Pratt & 
Whitney rocket engine.

To unsubscribe, e-mail: infowar -
 de-unsubscribe -!
- infopeace -
For additional commands, e-mail: infowar -
 de-help -!
- infopeace -