Cape Canaveral Titan 4 launch scheduled for 3 July UTC

Ted Molczan (molczan@fox.nstn.ca)
Mon, 1 Jul 1996 10:50:38 -0400

Phil Chien has informed me that the Titan 4
launch scheduled for 3 July, from Cape
Canaveral, has a launch period from 0 h to
2 h UTC. (Local time is 2 July, 20 h to 22 h
EDT).

Given the lack of an upper stage, the initial
orbit most likely will be between 57 deg and
62 deg inclination.

I do not see any obvious constellation
replenishment or augmentation opportunities
for Lacrosse or NOSS, but for the record,
here are the times when the existing objects'
orbital planes are coplanar with the launch
site, heading NNE;

2 July 10:40 UTC   Lacrosse 2 
2 July 11:02 UTC   NOSS 2-1
2 July 12:09 UTC   Lacrosse 1
2 July 20:58 UTC   NOSS 2-3
3 July 03:05 UTC   NOSS 2-2

None of these fall in or near the launch period, so
direct replacements are ruled out. Also, I do not
see any strong 90, 120, 240 or 270 deg RAAN 
spacing opportunities. A launch at 00:01 UTC on
3 July, would bisect the 92 deg separation between
NOSS 2-2 and NOSS 2-3. John Pike has expressed the
belief that only four NOSS 2 constellations were
built. Taking into account the Aug 1993 launch
failure, all four have already been launched.

If it is not Lacrosse or NOSS, then perhaps it is
a Kh destined for an orbit similar to that of
90019B. That is the infamous USA 53 or AFP-731.
Or, maybe it is an SDS 2. SDS 2-1 and 2-2 were 
shuttle-launched into low 57 deg orbits, and later
manoeuvred to Molniya orbits. The oldest of these,
89061B, could well be ready for replacement.

I will try to produce some search elements over
the next 24 h, well before the launch.

bye for now