USA-245

Summary

USA-245 or NRO Launch 65 (NROL-65) is an American reconnaissance satellite which is operated by the National Reconnaissance Office. Launched in August 2013, it is the last Block 4 KH-11 reconnaissance satellite, and the last official spacecraft to be launched in the Keyhole program.[2]

USA-245
NROL-65 launch.jpg
Launch of USA-245
Mission typeOptical imaging
OperatorNational Reconnaissance Office
COSPAR ID2013-043A
SATCAT no.39232
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeKH-11
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Start of mission
Launch date28 August 2013 18:03:00 UTC
RocketDelta IV Heavy (Delta 364)
Launch siteVandenberg, SLC-6
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeSun-synchronous orbit
SlotWest plane
Perigee altitude276 kilometres (171 mi)
Apogee altitude1,010 kilometres (630 mi)
Inclination97.86°
Period97.44 minutes
Epoch8 January 2015 19:32:46 UTC[1]
 

Reconnaissance satelliteEdit

Details of USA-245's mission are classified by the US military, however numerous independent analysts identified it as a KH-11 before launch, and amateur satellite watchers have since observed it in the orbit used by such satellites.[3][4]

KH-11 satellites are used to provide high-resolution optical and infrared imagery for US intelligence agencies.[5]

USA-245 was launched by United Launch Alliance, using a Delta IV Heavy rocket[6] with the flight number Delta 364 and the name Victoria. The launch took place from Space Launch Complex 6 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base at 18:03 UTC (11:03 local time) on 28 August 2013.[7] After deploying its payload, the rocket's upper stage was deorbited after completing one orbit.[2] The launch was the first Delta IV mission to use a new ignition sequence aimed at reducing damage to the first stage insulation caused by igniting a cloud of hydrogen around the vehicle at liftoff. To mitigate this, the rocket's starboard engine was lit two seconds earlier than on previous flights.[8]

In 2020, MIT Technology Review reported that USA-245 was likely being "stalked" by a Russian satellite, Kosmos 2542, in a possible attempt to spy on US-245 to deduce its camera aperture and resolution, or its computer functionality and operating times.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Peat, Chris (8 January 2015). "USA 245 - Orbit". Heavens-Above. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Graham, William (28 August 2013). "ULA Delta IV-H launches with NROL-65". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  3. ^ Molczan, Ted (28 August 2013). "RE: NROL-65 search elements". Seesat-L. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  4. ^ Langbroek, Marco (28 August 2013). "NROL-65 seen". Seesat-L. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  5. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "KH-11 / Kennen / Crystal". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  6. ^ "National Reconnaissance Office Mission Successfully Launches on World's Largest Rocket, the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy". United Launch Alliance. 28 August 2013. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  7. ^ Ray, Justin (28 August 2013). "Delta Launch Report - Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  8. ^ Ray, Justin (25 August 2013). "America's largest rocket set for launch Wednesday". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  9. ^ Patel, Nell V. (3 February 2020). "A Russian satellite is probably stalking a US spy satellite in orbit". MIT Technology Review. ISSN 0040-1692. OCLC 37630163. Archived from the original on 7 April 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021. On January 20, something rather strange happened in orbit. A Russian satellite suddenly maneuvered itself so that it was closely shadowing a US spy satellite. The pair are now less than 186 miles (300 kilometers) apart—a short distance when it comes to space. While we don’t know for sure what’s going on, the Russian satellite’s actions strongly suggest it is there to spy on the US one—and there is very little the US can do about it.