Mission typeELINT
OperatorUS NRO
COSPAR ID2010-063A
SATCAT no.37232
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeOrion
Start of mission
Launch date21 November 2010, 22:58 (2010-11-21UTC22:58Z) UTC[1]
RocketDelta IV Heavy D351
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-37B
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Longitude100.9° east[2]
Perigee altitude35,601 kilometers (22,121 mi)
Apogee altitude35,985 kilometers (22,360 mi)
Inclination5.09 degrees
Period23.93 hours
Epoch14 May 2013, 18:44:29 UTC[3]

USA-223, known before launch as NRO Launch 32 (NRO L-32), is an American reconnaissance satellite which was launched in 2010. It is operated by the United States National Reconnaissance Office. It presently holds the record for being the largest spy satellite ever launched.[4][need quotation to verify]

Whilst details of its mission are officially classified, amateur observers have identified USA-223 as an Orion satellite; the seventh in the Magnum/Orion series. Orion spacecraft are used for electronic signals intelligence, and carry large antennas to enable them to intercept radio transmissions. These antennas are believed to have a diameter of around 100 metres (330 ft).[5] Bruce A. Carlson, the director of the NRO, described the spacecraft as being the largest satellite ever launched.[6]

USA-223 was launched by United Launch Alliance, aboard a Delta IV Heavy carrier rocket flying from Space Launch Complex 37B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch occurred at 22:58 UTC on 21 November 2010.[1] Following liftoff the rocket flew East towards a geosynchronous orbit. By 23:05 UTC, official updates on the status of the launch had been discontinued.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Issue 635". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  2. ^ "UCS Satellite Database". Union of Concerned Scientists. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  3. ^ Peat, Chris (14 May 2013). "USA 223 - Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  4. ^ Guinness World Records 2013, Page 029 (Hardcover edition). ISBN 9781904994879
  5. ^ Ray, Justin (17 November 2010). "Essential U.S. Spy Satellite Launching Friday". Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  6. ^ Harwood, William (21 November 2010). "Delta 4 rocket blasts off with classified NRO satellite". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  7. ^ Ray, Justin. "Mission Status Center". Delta Mission Report. Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 November 2010.