Encyclopedia Astronautica
SDS-3


American military communications satellite, provided data relay services for optical reconnaissance and other military spacecraft. Operational, first launch 2000.12.06.

Replacement for the SDS-2 satellites, which from Molniya-type orbits, provided data relay services for optical reconnaissance and other military spacecraft. The Atlas-IIAS payload capability indicates they had a mass under 3600 kg, compared to 6000 kg for the SDS-2 series. Therefore they surely had a different payload, and may have had a substantially different mission.

Gross mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb).
First Launch: 2000.12.06.
Last Launch: 2011.03.11.
Number: 5 .

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...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NRO American agency overseeing development of spacecraft. National Reconnaissance Office, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. 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...
  • Cape Canaveral LC36A Atlas launch complex. Launch site built in 1960 for NASA's Atlas/Centaur development program, and used for launches of that launch vehicle until its retirement. 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...

SDS-3 Chronology


2000 December 6 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. Launch Pad: SLC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas IIAS. LV Configuration: Atlas IIAS AC-157 MLV-11.
  • USA 155 - . Payload: Capricorn 2? / MLV-11 'Great Bear'. Mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Manufacturer: El Segundo. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: SDS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 26635 . COSPAR: 2000-080A. Apogee: 35,790 km (22,230 mi). Perigee: 35,780 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Classified satellite. Launch delayed 24 hours by RL10 engine problem in upper stage. USA 155 was a classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite. The Centaur placed the payload in a 176 x 831 km parking orbit and then in a 270 x 37490 km x 26.5 deg geostationary transfer orbit. The spacecraft was probably either a data relay satellite (to relay spy satellite imagery and data to the ground) and/or a signals intelligence satellite.

2001 October 11 - . 02:32 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. Launch Pad: SLC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas IIAS. LV Configuration: Atlas IIAS AC-162.
  • USA 162 - . Payload: Aquila / MLV-12. Mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: SDS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 26948 . COSPAR: 2001-046A. The Atlas AC-162 Centaur entered a 176 x 907 km x 28.2 deg parking orbit at 0242 GMT and then made a second burn to deploy its payload in a 274 x 37538 km x 26.5 deg geostationary transfer orbit at 0301 GMT. USA 162 was rumoured to be a data relay satellite used to return data from imaging satellites similar to the one launched on October 5 2001. It was also possible that the satellite is a signals intelligence payload. The satellite is owned and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

2004 August 31 - . 23:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. Launch Pad: SLC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas IIAS. LV Configuration: Atlas IIAS AC-167.
  • USA 179 - . Payload: Nemesis (NRO L-1). Mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: SDS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 28384 . COSPAR: 2004-034A. 63rd and last flight of Atlas IIAS. 576th and final launch of Rocketdyne-powered Atlas rockets. Final launch from LC36A after 42 years of use. Launch delayed from June 24 and 25, July 1 and 27, August 27, 28, 29 and 30. The payload was probably a communications satellite used to relay data from imaging spy satellites.

2007 December 10 - . 22:05 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-015.
  • USA 198 - . Payload: NROL-24. Nation: USA. Agency: Martin. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: SDS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 32378 . COSPAR: 2007-060A. Apogee: 39,705 km (24,671 mi). Perigee: 515 km (320 mi). Inclination: 62.6000 deg. Classified National Reconnaisance Office payload; probable primary payload data relay communications. May also have carried SBIRS HEO-2 infrared missile warning sensor and a TWINS-B magnetospheric research experiment. Initial orbit 261 x 16776 km x 60.0 deg.

2011 March 11 - . 23:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC37B. Launch Pad: SLC37B. LV Family: Delta IV. Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ (4.2).
  • USA 227 - . Payload: NROL-27. Nation: USA. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: SDS-3. USAF Sat Cat: 37377 . COSPAR: 2011-011A. Summary: Probable classified Satellite Data System communications satellite inserted into geostationary orbit..

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