Encyclopedia Astronautica
NOSS-3


American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Operational, first launch 2001.09.08.

The new generation series of National Reconnaissance Office naval electronic intelligence satellites was launched by Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS from Vandenberg AFB, rather than by Titan 4. The Centaur upper stage would deploy what was catalogued as a main satellite and then a companion in a final circular operational orbit at 1100 km, 63 deg inclination. This was in comparison to a triangle of three satellites in earlier generation NOSS satellites, so the design was much lighter and probably quite different.

First Launch: 2001.09.08.
Last Launch: 2011.04.15.
Number: 9 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Atlas V The Atlas V launch vehicle system was a completely new design that succeeded the earlier Atlas series. Atlas V vehicles were based on the 3.8-m (12.5-ft) diameter Common Core Booster (CCB) powered by a single Russian RD-180 engine. These could be clustered together, and complemented by a Centaur upper stage, and up to five solid rocket boosters, to achieve a wide range of performance. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Atlas IIAS American orbital launch vehicle. The Atlas II booster was 2.7-meters longer than the Atlas I and included uprated Rocketdyne MA-5A engines. The Atlas I vernier engines were replaced with a hydrazine roll control system. The Centaur stage was stretched 0.9-meters compared to the Centaur I stage. Fixed foam insulation replaced Atlas I's jettisonable insulation panels. Higher performance RL10A-4 or RL10A-4-1 engines replaced Atlas II's RL10A-3-3A. The Atlas IIAS model added four Thiokol Castor IVA solid rocket boosters (SRBs) to the core Atlas stage to augment thrust for the first two minutes of flight. More...
  • Atlas V American orbital launch vehicle. The Atlas V launch vehicle system was a completely new design that succeeded the earlier Atlas series. Atlas V vehicles were based on the 3.8-m (12.5-ft) diameter Common Core Booster (CCB) powered by a single Russian RD-180 engine. These could be clustered together, and complemented by a Centaur upper stage, and up to five solid rocket boosters, to achieve a wide range of performance. More...
  • Atlas V 401 American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas V version with a 4-m diameter payload fairing, single engine Centaur upper stage, and no strap-on solid boosters. Payloads: 7,095 kg (15,642 lb) to sun synchronous orbit; 4,950 kg (10,910 lb) to geosynchronous transfer orbit. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC3E Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas test facility, originally designated PALC1-2, then LC1-2, and finally upgraded to a Space Launch Facility in 1966. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC36B Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas Centaur launch pad, in service from 1964 until the retirement of the launch vehicle. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC41 Titan, Atlas V launch complex. Complexes 40 and 41 were constructed as part of the Integrate-Transfer-Launch (ITL) Titan launch facility at the north end of Cape Canaveral in the early 1960s. Over the next three decades, the complexes supported a wide variety of military space missions involving Titan IIIC, Titan 34D and Titan IV. Complex 41 was deactivated at the end of 1977, then upgraded for the Titan IV program in the 1986-88 period. In October 1999, Complex 41 was demolished with high explosives in order for a new pad for launch of the Atlas 5 rocket to be erected. By then it had been the starting point for 27 Titan flights. More...

NOSS-3 Chronology


2001 September 8 - . 15:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas IIAS. LV Configuration: Atlas IIAS AC-160 MLV-10.
  • USA 160 - . Payload: MLV-10. Mass: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Manufacturer: Martin. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 26905 . COSPAR: 2001-040A. Launch delayed from July 31. First of a new series of naval electronic intelligence satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS AC-160 put the vehicle in a transfer orbit. The phrasing of the launch commentary implied that the second burn left the payload in 'transfer orbit', but several observers saw the bright Centaur in the typical final deployment orbit of the earlier NOSS satellites. Therefore it seemed the first burn was to a transfer orbit of around 180 x 1100 km x 63 deg. The second burn at 1629 GMT put the Centaur and payload into an 1100 x 1100 km x 63 deg orbit. The design was apparently quite different from earlier generation NOSS satellites since only one companion satellite was deployed rather than two. Prime contractor for the new satellites was again believed to be Lockheed Martin Astronautics at Denver. The NRL probably continued to have a management and technical role in the program under overall NRO auspices.
  • USA 160 companion - . Payload: MLV-10. Mass: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Manufacturer: Martin. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 26907 . COSPAR: 2001-040C.

2003 December 2 - . 10:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas IIAS. LV Configuration: Atlas IIAS AC-164 / MLV-14.
  • USA 173 - . Payload: NROL-18. Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 28095 . COSPAR: 2003-054A. Apogee: 1,210 km (750 mi). Perigee: 1,010 km (620 mi). Inclination: 63.4000 deg. Summary: Second launch of new generation paired satellites used for tracking, characterisation, and intelligence on naval vessels and civilian shipping worldwide..
  • USA 173 companion - . Payload: NROL-18. Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 28097 . COSPAR: 2003-054C. Apogee: 1,210 km (750 mi). Perigee: 1,010 km (620 mi). Inclination: 63.4000 deg.

2005 February 3 - . 07:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. Launch Pad: SLC36B. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas 3B SEC. LV Configuration: Atlas 3B-SEC AC-206.
  • USA 181 - . Nation: USA. Agency: ILS. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 28537 . COSPAR: 2005-004A. Apogee: 1,209 km (751 mi). Perigee: 1,011 km (628 mi). Inclination: 63.4000 deg. Last launch of an Atlas model using the original, innovative, balloon propellant tanks conceived in 1947. Third launch of new generation paired satellites used for tracking, characterisation, and intelligence on naval vessels and civilian shipping worldwide.
  • USA 181 companion - . Nation: USA. Agency: ILS. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 28541 . COSPAR: 2005-004C. Apogee: 1,209 km (751 mi). Perigee: 1,011 km (628 mi). Inclination: 63.4000 deg.

2007 June 15 - . 15:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. Launch Pad: SLC41. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401. LV Configuration: Atlas V 401 AV-009.
  • USA 194 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 31701 . COSPAR: 2007-027A. Apogee: 1,246 km (774 mi). Perigee: 776 km (482 mi). Inclination: 63.0000 deg. Classified National Reconnaissance Office mission. There appeared to be problem in the second burn of the Centaur upper stage. Amateur observors believed that two satellites were to be have been deployed in 1150 km altitude, 63 deg inclination, but that only a 776 km x 1246 km was achieved. However it was believed that the payloads could reach the final intended orbits using on-board propulsion

2011 April 15 - . 04:24 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 411.
  • USA 229 - . Payload: NROL-34. Nation: USA. Class: Military. Type: Electronic intelligence satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 37386 . COSPAR: 2011-014A. Summary: Probable naval ocean surveillance satellite cluster; normally operate in 1100 km circular orbits with 63 deg inclination and carry equipment to track ships and aircraft via their radio transmissions..
  • USA 229 P/L 2 - . Payload: NROL-34. Nation: USA. Class: Military. Type: Electronic intelligence satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS-3. COSPAR: 2011-014B. Summary: Probable naval ocean surveillance satellite cluster; normally operate in 1100 km circular orbits with 63 deg inclination and carry equipment to track ships and aircraft via their radio transmissions..

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