USA NNN name questions

From: Jonathan McDowell (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 06:39:54 PDT

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    Robert et al,
     The USA names are given by the US DoD (in fact Space
    Command I think) as cover names. They are therefore the
    'official' open names of the classified US satellites.
    As Leo pointed out, the satellites also have classified namews
    such as TRUMPET (note upper case letters are used) or LACROSSE.
    But the US government never acknowledges these classified names
    (at least not until the programs themselves are declassified).
    USA names are also given to unclassified satellites such as GPS,
    for completeness and to confuse us. So an official US govt statement
    might refer to either GPS SVN43 or USA 132, but it would
    always refer to USA 133 and never LACROSSE 3 (or whatever its
    real name is) outside of classified documents.
     It's directly equivalent to the Soviet Kosmos series of
    satellites, which is a generic cover name for programs
    such as Yantar', Tselina, etc.
      - Jonathan McDowell
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