NROL-30 search elements

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Mon Jun 11 2007 - 16:21:54 EDT

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    NROL-30 will launch NOSS 3-4 (the 4th pair of 3rd generation NOSS satellites),
    aboard an Atlas 5-401 vehicle, from Cape Canaveral, on 2007 Jun 14, during the
    period between 13:00 to 16:00 UTC.
    I suspect that the target plane is close to that of NOSS 2-3 (96029C, D and E).
    Assuming that the 96029 plane is targeted exactly, and the same ascent
    trajectory as NOSS 3-3 (05004A and C), which launched from CCAFS aboard an Atlas
    3B-SEC, then lift-off would occur near 15:10 UTC, and this would be the orbit of
    the leading payload at the first ascending node:
    1 70001U          07165.69972605  .00000011  00000-0  20000-4 0    02
    2 70001  63.4420  43.4101 0107863 182.7436 177.3009 13.39714521    01
    The second payload would trail behind by a short distance. The Centaur stage may
    be in a roughly similar orbit.
    In reality, the target plane is likely to be a few degrees either side of the
    96029 plane, and the ascent trajectory is likely to be different than that
    of NOSS 3-3, due to the change of launch vehicle; therefore, there will be at
    least several degrees uncertainty in the orbital plane.
    The following is a rough guide to visibility; prospective observers should make
    their own evaluation, using the above elements.
    Northern hemisphere observers well south of about 55 N, will have evening
    visibility. At my latitude, near 44 N, passes will be low in the west, near
    twilight. The situation improves considerably at more southerly latitudes, say
    30 N.
    Southern hemisphere observers well south of about 20 S will have morning
    I will revise the elements once the time of lift-off is known.
    Ted Molczan
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