RE: NROL-76 payload speculation

From: Ted Molczan via Seesat-l <>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 07:18:31 -0400
I have been informed off-list that the term "delivery to orbit" is more commonly worded as "delivery in orbit." With
that small change, web searches yield numerous examples that confirm the definition that I had found for "delivery
to orbit." Therefore, I am now confident that in the aforementioned interview published by Intelligence & Geospatial
Forum on 2013 Mar 28, NRO Director Betty J. Sapp disclosed that NRO awarded a package deal for a satellite in the
summer of 2012, in which the builder of the satellite will provide a commercial launch on a Falcon 9, with launch
planned for December 2015.

A launch awarded in summer 2012 for delivery in orbit in Dec 2015 could well have slipped to Apr 2017, consistent with
the hypothesis that it is NROL-76. SpaceX experienced significant delays during this period due to a couple of mishaps
with the Falcon 9. The payload could also have caused or contributed to the delay.

The temporal correlation between the award of this launch and the reported early 2013 order for three Boeing BSS-702SP,
placed by an unnamed U.S. Government agency is not exact, but it is sufficiently close to be interesting, and tends to
support my speculation that NROL-76 will launch a BSS-702SP payload to GEO, on a mission similar to that of PAN and
CLIO (aka Nemesis 1 and 2); or less likely, one or two new generation Molniya SDS built on BSS-702SP.

I am warming to the Molniya SDS idea, mainly because Falcon 9 v 1.2 appears to have sufficient performance to directly
inject a single BSS-702SP spacecraft into nearly the final Molniya orbit, leaving the payload with a nearly complete
fuel supply at the outset of its mission, available to compensate for the large perturbations experienced by Molniya

A due east launch almost certainly will have GEO as its final destination. A launch that follows the northeast coast of
North America will enter a quasi-60 deg orbit, that could have a LEO or Molniya final destination.

Ted Molczan

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Received on Mon Apr 17 2017 - 06:19:20 UTC

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