USA-229

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USA-229
Operator US NRO
Bus NOSS-3 or NOSS-4
Mission type SIGINT
Launch date 15 April 2011
04:24 UTC
Carrier rocket Atlas V 411 AV-027
Launch site Vandenberg SLC-3E
COSPAR ID 2011-014A
SATCAT 37386
Orbital elements
Regime LEO
Inclination 63.45 degree[1]
Apoapsis 1,204 km (748 mi)[1]
Periapsis 1,017 km (632 mi)[1]

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 carrier rocket, which launched from Space Launch Complex 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 1,025 kilometres (637 mi) and an apogee of 1,207 kilometres (750 mi), inclined at 64.4 degrees 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 from the radio transmissions that they emit.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Molczan, Ted (2011-04-21). "NROL-34: NOSS 3-5 elements". http://www.satobs.org/seesat. 
  2. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Issue 640". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Ray, Justin. "Mission Status Center". Atlas Mission Report. Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Ted, Molczan (17 April 2011). "RE: NROL-34 - NOSS 3-5 pair spotted tonight from Austin, TX". SeeSat-L. 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.