USA-229

Summary

USA-229
NamesNROL-34
NRO Launch 34
NOSS-3 5A and 5B
Intruder 9A and 9B
Mission typeSIGINT
OperatorUnited States NRO
COSPAR ID2011-014A
SATCAT no.37386 and 37391
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftNOSS-3 5 (3rd Generation)
Spacecraft typeIntruder
BusNOSS-3
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Launch mass3250 kg (each)
Start of mission
Launch date15 April 2011, at 04:24 UTC
RocketAtlas V 411 (AV-027)
Launch siteVandenberg, SLC-3E
ContractorULA
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude1015 km
Apogee altitude1207 km
Inclination63.46° [1]
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USA-229, known before launch as NRO Launch 34 (NROL-34), is a pair of American signals intelligence satellites which were launched in 2011. They are operated by the United States National Reconnaissance Office.

Both satellites were deployed by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 launch vehicle, which launched from SLC-3E at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch occurred at 04:24 UTC on 15 April 2011.[2] The rocket placed the satellites into a low Earth orbit. By 04:29 UTC, official updates on the status of the spacecraft had been discontinued.[3]

Whilst details of the satellites and their missions are officially classified, amateur observers have identified that the Atlas V deployed two satellites, one of which has officially been catalogued as debris. The two spacecraft have been identified as being a pair of third or fourth generation Naval Ocean Surveillance System satellites.[4] Amateur observations have located the spacecraft in an orbit with a perigee of 1,015 kilometres (631 mi) and an apogee of 1,207 kilometres (750 mi), inclined at 63.46° to the plane of the equator.[2] Current generation NOSS satellites are always launched and operated in pairs,[5] and are used to locate and track ships and aircraft from the radio transmissions that they emit.[6]

References

  1. ^ Molczan, Ted (24 April 2011). "NROL-34: NOSS 3-5 elements". SatObs.
  2. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Issue 640". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  3. ^ Ray, Justin. "Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  4. ^ Ted, Molczan (17 April 2011). "NROL-34 - NOSS 3-5 pair spotted tonight from Austin, Texas". Satobs. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  5. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "NOSS-3". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  6. ^ Ray, Justin (18 April 2011). "Observers confirm identity of last week's Atlas payload". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 April 2011.