NRO Atlas payload

Allen Thomson (
Thu, 29 Jan 1998 18:35:58 -0800 (PST)

Thanks to Phil Chien's work, it now seems that we know that the
NRO Atlas has put something into a Molniya orbit. This is at
least consistent with the hypothesis that it is carrying a prototype
of the COBRA BRASS IR sensor intended for SBIRS HEO (as well as,
probably, some post-TRUMPET ELINT equipment).

If so, we can anticipate that it will participate in some BMDO
launch detection tests later this year and next.  Determination
of the payload's argument of perigee and mean anomaly would help
test the hypothesis, as it would then be possible to determine
if the satellite were in a favorable position to see a given
launch event.