NROL-20 NOTAMs

From: Ted Molczan (seesat@rogers.com)
Date: Sun Oct 16 2005 - 10:49:38 EDT

  • Next message: Leo Barhorst: "LB obs 2005 Oct 16"

    NROL-20 - the final Titan-IV - is scheduled for launch from VAFB on 2005 Oct 19
    between 16:00 and 20:00 UTC.
    
    The aviation NOTAMs were issued overnight, and they reveal a launch azimuth
    similar to that of a standard KH, so there is no way this going to a 116.6 deg
    inclination 8X orbit:
    
    A0524/05 (10/073) -  RESTRICTED AREA ACTIVATED CARF NR. 1223 ON 2 ROPS AIROP
    D0-0502 STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3421N/12038W 3422N/12043W
    3438N/12039W 3437N/12034W WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 2630N/12253W 3252N/12124W
    3244N/12035W 2621N/12207W WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 1307N/12533W 1627N/12452W
    1624N/12435W 1303N/12516W SFC UNL 19 OCT 15:45 UNTIL 19 OCT 20:24
    
    The comparable NOTAMs for the KH launched in 2001 Oct, defined 5 hazard areas,
    while the one for NROL-20 defines just 3. It will be interesting to see whether
    the marine NOTAMs are any different.
    
    I am not certain that this difference means all that much. It looks like the 3
    middle hazard areas of 2001 Oct have been covered by a single, longer area on
    this flight.
    
    Also, the final hazard area (where the 1st stage falls) of 2001 Oct was 6 deg
    further south than that of this launch. This could suggest a heavier payload,
    resulting in a lower velocity at stage 1 burnout. Alternatively, it could mean a
    different altitude and fight-path angle at burn-out, which might not be all that
    significant - perhaps just a difference in the target argument of perigee.
    
    Now all we need is the launch time. If this is headed for the standard western
    KH plane, then launch should be within minutes of 11:09 PDT = 18:09 UTC.
    
    I expect to post search elements sometime before launch. Anyone having
    visibility of USA 129, should have visibility of the orbit of this launch.
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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