notes on CBS NRO feature

Philip Chien (
Fri, 6 Feb 1998 16:50:38 -0400

Well, I'll try to stay on-topic.

The two satellites shown on the CBS spy satellites news piece were the
Lockheed-Martin "Lacrosse" radar mapper, and Hughes Satellite Data Systems
relay satellite.

I talked to the NRO public affairs representative today (now there's a
statement I never thought I'd type!) and he's sending me photographs of the
two satellites.  Hopefully I'll get them next week and if there's interest
I'll scan them and send them to Jeff for the VSHOP page.

The NRO will not verify the identity of the specific satellites, their
purposes, or any other details, but I did find some interesting tidbits.

CBS shot the Lacrosse footage a couple of months ago - but certainly
_after_ the October launch of Lacrosse 3.  I seem to recall somebody
thinking that Lacrosse 3 was supposed to be the last satellite.  It's
certainly possible that CBS filmed a test article, ground spare, or
full-size mockup --- but on the face of it it appears that there's at least
one additional Lacrosse-class satellite in a classified cleanroom in Denver
Colorado.  (hmm, I don't suppose you can drop by and check on that for us

I've viewed Lacrosse 1 and Lacrosse 2 several times (haven't seen Lacrosse
3 yet ..) and it was _quite_ fascinating to see video of the spacecraft in
its clean room.  I am _very_ anxious to see the photos.

The little bits of footage in the Hughes cleanroom (which for some reason I
didn't see when I toured the Hughes facilities in December ... hmm, wonder
why?) looks like a Hughes HS-601 bus which was a pretty obvious assumption.
It's certainly plausible that this is the "Capricorn" USA 137 satellite
which was just launched on the Atlas.  The other possible candidate would
be the USA 125 payload launched on a Titan IV last year.

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.