NROL-32 Ready For Friday

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

NROL-32 looks to be ready to launch on Friday.  What’s the payload?  It can’t be said without putting your head into the safe.  However, the NRO itself has given a few…hints.  As reported by SpaceflightNow:

In an address to the Air Force Association conference in September, NRO Director Bruce Carlson, a retired Air Force general, said this rocket launch would carry “the largest satellite in the world on it.”

The largest in the world, eh?  I suppose the shark with a laser beam on its head wasn’t available.  Anyway, the payload will ride on the United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy which is well-suited for plus-sized satellites.  It’s basically three core vehicles and an upper stage.

And then there’s the speculation that’s bound to follow:

“I believe the payload is the fifth in the series of what we call Mentor spacecraft, a.k.a. Advanced Orion, which gather signals intelligence from inclined geosynchronous orbits. They are among the largest satellites ever deployed,” said Ted Molczan, a respected sky-watcher who keeps tabs on orbiting spacecraft.

Destined for geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the planet, this new spacecraft supposedly will unfurl an extremely lightweight but gigantically huge umbrella-like antenna to overhear enemy communications and aid U.S. intelligence.

“The satellite likely consists of sensitive radio receivers and an antenna generally believed to span up to 100 meters (328 feet) to gather electronic intelligence for the National Security Agency,” Molczan said.

I’m not sure, Ted.  It’s probably really a Satellite of Love.

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