Mammoth Eavesdropping Satellite Set for Launch Atop Delta-IV Heavy

Armed and with his identity protected this swordsman guards the American Flag Behind a shield marked 37 in Roman numerals. Image Credit: NRO

Armed and with his identity protected, this swordsman guards the American Flag
behind a shield marked 37 in Roman numerals. Image Credit: NRO

UPDATE: NRO-37 will attempt to launch again on Saturday at 1:51pm EDT. The first launch attempt June 9 was scrubbed due to weather violations.

Story published originally June 8: The biggest spacecraft in the world—a top secret multi-billion dollar National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Mentor/Advanced Orion eavesdropping satellite—is ready for launch from Cape Canaveral AFS as soon as June 9 at 1:59 pm EDT, on board the most powerful operational rocket in the world, a$375 million United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy.

Carrying a mammoth eavesdropping antenna spanning 330 feet, the Mentors “are the largest satellites ever launched,” said Air Force 4-star Gen. Bruce Carlson (ret), who headed NRO from 2009-2012.

NRO-37The nearly 6-ton NRO 37 Mentor/Advanced Orion spacecraft being launched is a Crown Jewel of America’s top secret intelligence satellite operations. This is because of its importance to national security from its signals and electronic intelligence intercepts for the National Security Agency (NSA); Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); and for Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Command Authority intelligence operations.

Local and national news media will briefly cover (or not cover) the NRO 37 mission as if it is a routine shot. But this over $2 billion mission is far from routine.

FOLLOW our on-site reporting and NRO 37 Launch Tracker for regular updates, as well as LIVE coverage on launch day.

The Mentor/Advanced Orion spacecraft provides unique and vitally important intelligence by listening to Middle Eastern Adversaries, such as ISIS, and political and military officials in China, North Korea, Russia, and other countries.

The satellite will also listen-in to telemetry from foreign missile tests, especially key intelligence from North Korea, China, and Russia, which are all developing multiple new missiles with which to threaten the U.S. on land, sea, and in the air.

The NRO long ago developed the ability to listen to Chinese and Soviet/Russian leaders in their offices and cars. But as technology has advanced such eavesdropping has become far more complex. Much of the intelligence received is coded, requiring extensive efforts at NSA to break it.

In addition to its intelligence data, the NRO Mentor and ULA/USAF Delta-IV Heavy programs fund hundreds of ULA jobs across the U.S. and at the Cape’s 45th Space Wing. In fact the Delta-IV Heavy rocket was developed primarily for launching advanced Mentor/Orion spacecraft directly into geosynchronous orbit. It also launches advanced Crystal KH-11 type digital imaging satellites into medium altitude polar orbits.

Locally, the Harris Corp. in Melbourne, Fla., has received hundreds of millions of dollars in NRO funding for the football field-sized dish antenna on each Mentor/Advanced Orion spacecraft. So far eight Orion and Advanced Orion Mentors have been launched carrying the huge Harris antennas. These Harris antennas involve some of the country’s most advanced highly protected technologies.

The prime contractor for previous versions of the Advanced Orion/Mentor spacecraft was TRW/Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC), and it is likely NGC remains the lead contractor.

Earlier Delta IV Heavy launches an NRO Mentor Advanced Orion evesdropping satellite from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

Earlier Delta IV Heavy launches an NRO Mentor Advanced Orion evesdropping satellite from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

The weather for a Thursday launch attempt is predicted to be 60 percent unfavorable, with clouds and thunderstorms a possibility throughout the day. If weather or technical issues force tomorrow’s launch to be scrubbed, the next opportunity to launch the NRO mission will come Saturday, June 11.

The Delta-IV Heavy NRO 37 mission will lift off on 2 million pounds of thrust, generated from its three RS-68A engines in the triple core launcher.

They will propel the Delta-IV Heavy off Launch Complex 37B on a trajectory that will place the satellite directly into geosynchronous orbit. That location remains secret, but it will join three other Mentor/Advanced Orions launched by Delta-IV Heavies since 2009.

At liftoff Each oxygen/hydrogen powered RS-68A will produce 705,000 lbs thrust—30 percent more than each Space Shuttle Main Engine generated.

The launch milestone chart below shows the approximate timing of NRO-37 ascent milestones, including the three burns by the Delta IV Heavy’s upper stage powered by a 25,000 lb-thrust RL-10-B-2 engine.

 

Image Credit: ULA

Image Credit: ULA

The exact ascent milestones must remain secret to avoid Russian and Chinese precision tracking. But the chart was originally prepared for the Initial Delta IV Heavy flight test with the initial RS-68 versions. It uses a two burn upper stage test profile.

Calculations by world renowned military space analyst Ted Molczan in Canada show the expected altitudes for each upper stage maneuver:

—Initial second stage engine cutoff is predicted to result in a 190 x 244 Km. (118 x 151 mi.) orbit .

—Second upper stage cutoff orbit is predicted by Molczan to be in orbit at 212 x 35,809 km. (132 x 22,250 mi.).

—Third upper stage burn is predicted to achieve a 35,746 (22,211 mi.) geosynchronous orbit.

NRO-37 at Launch Complex-37B this morning. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

NRO-37 at Launch Complex-37B this morning. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

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Missions » NROL » NROL-37 »

64 comments to Mammoth Eavesdropping Satellite Set for Launch Atop Delta-IV Heavy

  • James

    Wow!

    Thank you Craig Covault for the nifty article!

    Maybe ULA could swap in an RS-25 and two to four BE-3s for each RS-68A and then vertically land all three of the Delta-IV Heavy’s first stage cores.

    Such a modified Delta IV Heavy powered by an RS-25 and two to four BE-3s might thus gain some useful risk reducing engine out options and could also become human rated.

    Slightly stretched first stage cores might also be useful.

    If it reduces risk and saves money, having the option of sometimes landing and reusing stages should be lots of fun for everyone.

    “BE-3 is a new liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen (LH2/LOX) cryogenic engine that can produce 110,000 pounds-force (490 kN) of thrust at full power, and can be throttled down to as low as 25,000 pounds-force (110 kN) for use in controlled vertical landings.” From: ‘Blue Origin’
    at Wikipedia.

    “The engine is under consideration by United Launch Alliance (ULA) for use in a new second stage, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, in ULA’s Vulcan orbital launch vehicle with first flight in the 2020s.[3]” From ‘BE-3’ at Wikipedia.

    ULA most likely won’t have the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage version of the Vulcan until “the 2020s”, but all the elements needed for a reusable RS-25 and BE-3 powered Delta IV Heavy are available right now.

    • Jester Gambolt

      Considering that ULA plans to discontinue production of the Delta IV before the end of the decade, I’d say there’s a slim to none chance of its being modified.

      • James

        Jester Gambolt –

        Perhaps one question is:
        If ULA swaps in an RS-25 and two to four BE-3s for each RS-68A and then vertically lands all three of the Delta-IV Heavy’s first stage cores and reuses those Delta IV Heavy cores, would ULA’s costs be lowered enough to justify the the primary customer, the US Congress, wanting to keep the many spaceflight mission options offered by such a human rated and risk reducing engine out capable modified Delta-IV Heavy?

        Note that Delta-IV Heavy cores powered with seven BE-3s substituted for each RS-68A might also make good sense cost wise and open up a lot of options.

        If such a modified BE-3 powered Delta-IV Heavy is launched without a payload, it is capable of putting the middle core in orbit.

        Once in Earth orbit and refilled with hydrolox, such a Delta-IV Heavy core that is powered by seven BE-3s would be a quite useful and very large Earth orbit departure stage.

        Such a BE-3 powered middle core of a Delta-IV Heavy in Earth orbit might also be used as a mobile hydrolox propellant depot.

        A BE-3 powered Delta-IV Heavy middle core based hydrolox propellant depot in LEO could also move itself to a stable low polar Lunar orbit.

        If we are serious about lowering the risks and costs of Cislunar human missions and tapping the Moon’s water and other diverse resources and opportunities, such mobile BE-3 powered hydrolox propellant depots in a stable low Lunar polar orbit and some others in LEO could be quite useful. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen which are also the propellants needed for the BE-3.

        A seven BE-3 powered Delta-IV Heavy middle core based Lunar Lander is also possible. Having the thrust margin for multiple engines out while still being able to safely land and launch heavy loads should be understood as a big risk reduction feature for Lunar exploration and resource exploitation missions.

        An old Delta-IV Heavy middle core based Lunar Lander could also be moved into a cave or tunnel and be modified to serve as a habitat or garden.

        ULA might also have some other cost reducing or mission useful options that could enable the continuation of a modified Delta-IV Heavy.

        “This demonstrated that the engine could produce 490 kilonewtons (110,000 lbf) of thrust at full power, and could successfully throttle down to as low as 110 kilonewtons (25,000 lbf) for use in controlled vertical landings if needed for that purpose on particular launch vehicles.[6] The final engine specifications, released in April 2015 following the full test phase, included a minimum thrust of 89 kilonewtons (20,000 lbf), an even wider throttling capability by 20 percent than the preliminary numbers, while maintaining the previously released full power thrust spec.[7] ‘BE-3’ from Wikipedia

        The many successes of the versatile hydrolox BE-3 rocket engine could open lots of new mission options for a modified Delta-IV Heavy.

        Time will tell.

        • Jester Gambolt

          “If we are serious about lowering the risks and costs of Cislunar human missions and tapping the Moon’s water and other diverse resources”

          Depends who you think “we” is, or are. Several ventures have shown to be very interested in lowering the cost of access to space, but even so “tapping the Moon’s water” and other resources will be a pretty expensive undertaking, and will require years of focused efforts.

          More relevantly, since we are talking about the Delta IV, the question is: Is ULA interested in lowering the cost of access to space and / or going to the Moon?

          I think you can answer that question for yourself.

          • Joe

            “the question is: Is ULA interested in lowering the cost of access to space and / or going to the Moon?”

            ULA is a Lockheed/Boeing joint venture.

            Lockheed has expressed interest in a Lunar Orbit Space Station:

            http://www.space.com/32014-human-outpost-near-moon-cislunar-space.html

            as has Orbital Sciences:

            http://www.techtimes.com/articles/160205/20160522/orbital-atk-outpost-may-orbit-moon-by-2020s.htm

            So it is probably best not to summarily dismiss ULA’a areas of interest, though they would probably be more interested in using the new booster they are working on with Blue Origin (Blue Origin is also interested in Lunar ISRU).

            • Joe

              Then there is also ULA’s Cis-Lunar 1000 plan:

              http://www.spacenewsmag.com/feature/ulas-lunar-vision/

              Sorry about the double posting, but every time I try to provide more than two links the post seems to get rejected.

              • Jester Gambolt

                ULA has the right plan but needs a bigger rocket. If only Elon Musk would personally take charge of everything on planet Earth then we could go into space for almost nothing and enjoy weightless vacations. We could pay for this by serving the ultra-rich tourists in whatever way they wish.

                This kind of plan, which comes from the super-intelligent mind of an internet bill pay entrepreneur is what will succeed while the archaic and corrupt OldSpace companies do not have a chance.

                • Joe

                  There is an old episode of the TV series The Simpsons, where Bart and Lisa are cornered (at a car show where the Bat Mobile – from the 1960’s TV series – is being displayed) by actor Adam West (who played Batman in the series) demanding they believe he is the real Batman.

                  The words of Homer (coming to the rescue) would seem appropriate here:

                  “OK kids, back up slowly; don’t make eye contact.”

                  • john hare

                    It’s bad when I can’t even tell if he is serious or sarcastic.

                    • se jones

                      He makes some good points. There is no person in the last one hundred years as creative and disruptive as Elon. This man should rightfully be the leader of our nation and would probably succeed in getting elected if he ran as an independent. There is something mystical and supernatural about his decision-making and wisdom. He will be the future ruler of Mars at least.

                    • Joe

                      Hi John,

                      Is it just me or does it looked like somebody might be trying to punk somebody? 🙂

                      Some of the SpaceX groupies are very worshipful of Musk, but this kind of thing is a little much even for them.

                      It is a shame to have the comments section of an otherwise useful website polluted with this kind of thing.

                    • Gray Roger

                      It is time for the goats and the sheep to line up on either side. Those that support NASA old space crony corruption WILL be instructed to leave the area or suffer the consequences.

                    • TomDPerkins

                      “Some of the SpaceX groupies are very worshipful of Musk.”

                      As you should be. Those of us who are endorsing the future do not need your kind of stupidity and find your lack of faith disturbing.

                    • TomDPerkins

                      Since I was asleep at 7:40pm, Gary Church has decided to fake being me. He’s already a liar who’s admitted to using sockpuppets,so that’s no surprise.

                    • TomDPerkins

                      Those of us who support SpaceX with our heart and soul expect our enemies to attack us with lies and sockpuppets. It is no surprise that Elon and all who follow him are persecuted for making America great again. That is why I also support Trump and believe Elon would be a good VP candidate.

                    • Gary Church wrote this:

                      June 11, 2016 at 8:20 am
                      “Those of us … good VP candidate.”

                    • Tom's Drinking Game

                      TomDPerkins said Gary Church, DRINK!

                  • Jester Gambolt

                    Joe, you sussed correctly, this is the first incident (as far as I’m aware) of someone else using my nom de plume, the 5:39pm reply wasn’t me. It’s not even a good attempt to fake me, the content and style is all wrong.

                    I actually think Elon Musk would make a terrible president, just based on what I’ve heard he’s a real slave driver and things tend to be “his way or the highway,” which wouldn’t be a good way to run a country. But regardless of whether or not he’d make a good president, Elon Musk can’t run for president, he’s not native-born.

  • James

    With the President and Mr. Elon Musk strongly and successfully encouraging the international proliferation of various types of private cheap ICBMs/launchers to enable many of us to launch satellites and fly off to Mars, it would seem useful to be able to quickly and accurately communicate projected missile trajectory, or trajectories, of any ‘ugly surprise’ launch, or launches, of an unfriendly ICBM, or several unfriendly ICBMs, to every military force in the world with nuclear weapons and/or missile interception capabilities.

    This eternal planet wide vigilance against unfriendly ‘cheap and ugly ICBMs’ will obviously require continuous close and intense real time cooperation and trust between all the world’s military and intelligence forces in order to avoid any extremely nasty consequences from such an unfriendly ‘ugly surprise’ cheap ICBM launch, or salvo of launches.

    Of course, the usefulness of this level of international military cooperation and trust does assume every military force has 100% reliable interception capabilities and that everyone’s military and missile interceptors are always on a high state of alert readiness. These assumptions may be quite inaccurate and lead to hard to fathom disasters.

    A guaranteed five minute ‘target warning’ app for cell phones and the speaker systems of public buildings in the cheap and ugly ICBM targeted impact location, or locations, might be useful.

    Be assured though that our President and Mr. Musk will probably have suitable press releases to clarify their denial of cheap and ugly ICBM/launcher proliferation responsibility in order to console the survivors and calm angry folks around the world.

    “Perry reminds us that two of the four scenarios – a nuclear war by accident and a nuclear war by miscalculation – are comparable to those the U.S. and the Soviet Union faced in the Cold War.”

    And, “The point is this: Any of the four scenarios could bring about the worst catastrophe we have ever experienced. Taken together they represent a higher likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe than we faced during the Cold War. (That judgment has also been reached by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which this year noted that its “Doomsday Clock” is at three minutes to midnight, closer to doomsday than they had judged we were for most of the Cold War years.)”

    From: ‘On the Brink of Oblivion William Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink’, serves as a clarion global warning.’ By Mortimer B. Zuckerman Chairman, Editor-in-Chief
    June 7, 2016 at: U.S.NEWS

    Obviously, with the “Doomsday Clock” “at three minutes to midnight” encouraging the international Cold War II proliferation and instability of cheap and ugly ICBMs/launchers should be the highest priority for our tax dollars.

    Thank you Mr. Musk and Mr. President!

  • Larry Church

    Put your tin foil hat back on James. Musk may be listening.

    • James

      Larry Church –

      “Musk may be listening.”

      Nope. Wrong again.

      Mr. Musk is currently busy helping the President grease cheap and deadly accurate ICBMs/launchers and the “Doomsday Clock”. They are both pretty slick and sick with grease, but they keep at it because they claim that cheaply shipping folks to the radiation drenched hell of Mars is a profitable American space policy.

      “Out in space, it is estimated that it would take about three days for every single one of your trillions of body cells to be hit by a high-energy proton (the lightest and most common galactic cosmic ray). Over the course of a year, each of your cells would likely have encountered at least one heavy and damaging iron nuclei. Other types of radiation are relatively weak and diffuse, sort of like a BB pellet, making a galactic cosmic ray a cannonball – large, weighty, and packing a punch.”
      ‘Space Radiation Remains Major Hazard for Humans Going to Mars’ By Adam Mann 4/24/2014 at Wired

      “Larry Church
      June 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm · Reply

      Gary mentioned Hobby Rockets! Drink!!” At: http://www.americaspace.com/?p=93607#comments

      Quit drinking Larry. Get some help.

      “Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship[1] founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. AA’s stated ‘primary purpose’ is to help alcoholics ‘stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety’.[2][3][4] With other early members Bill Wilson and Bob Smith developed AA’s Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development.” From: ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ at Wikipedia

      Good luck with your sobriety!

        • Gary Church

          That looks nothing like me, troll.

          • TomDPerkins

            You are the troll Gary. How can you keep telling so many lies about SpaceX and live with yourself? Don’t you understand what that company means to the future of this country? It may be the only hope for the United State of America. If Mr. Musk takes over the government, as he may have to, then all of the troublemakers like you will be executed if there is any justice.

            • Larry Church

              The Space X haters that comment here should beware- you are being tracked and your personal info recorded and you WILL pay for your evil doings. If you cannot take a hint then more effective methods will eventually be utilized to make you see the light.

              SpaceX and the wealth creator Musk are a new force in history that will be recognized and due respect paid or there will be consequences. Now DRINK!

              • TomDPerkins

                The crankery of these anti-spaceX fanatics is unbearable and measures need to be taken to get rid of any criticims Elon Musk and his organization. SpaceX is truly the only space program the U.S. has: NASA is just a front for the real business of launching the Falcon family into history.

                The despicable trolling of Gary Church and his sockpuppet James is being recorded on this site
                http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-anti-spacex-crankery-of-james-so.htmland

                I advise anyone who supports Elon and his vision of a future retirement community on Mars to visit and take note. The list of enemies and sock puppet demons will one day be cleared and accounts settled.

              • Larry Church

                Really? Using my username? I’m mean, not only is that sad, its not even very original.

                • Tom's Drinking Game

                  You are really Gary Church. You just want to confuse everyone with the L. Maybe you should have a drink?

                  • Larry Church

                    I am NOT Gary or Clio Marsden or Gray Roger or Gary’s drinking game or any of those people. You are the one doing all of this and hopefully the moderator will ban you. The forum is for SpaceX fans, not for those who are against cheap access to LEO and space tourism. You need to find another place to troll.

                    • Larry Church

                      Again, stop stealing my name. I have never called for the banning of anyone. I made this username to make fun of Gary, not to make incoherent rants.

                    • Jester Gambolt

                      If you made that name to make fun of Gary then I guess it is fine then. That is what this discussion column is for- to humiliate others with a different opinion. Any scumbags who do not support Elon deserve whatever they get. They SHOULD be mocked and trolled until they go away.

                    • TomDPerkins

                      There is no tangible proof that James is the one making these comments but I believe it is him. More mathless assertions with neither facts nor logic behind them are really the best place to discern the nature of reality.

                      It is a certainty there are places where SpaceX critics cannot operate profitably without a subsidy, but that is the least of Musk’s problems and it would simply contract to where it is profitable if nobody were to criticize the reality that he creates- along with all the wealth he generates.

                    • “That is what this discussion column is for- to humiliate others with a different opinion.”

                      No, but it’s fair game when someone has ridiculous opinions with no basis in reality.

                      And that’s Gary Church and his sockpuppet, James.

                      To earn respect, he need to drop the sockpuppets and bring the math. However, he is an unable scumbag.

                    • Joe

                      TomDPerkins (June 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm)
                      “There is no tangible proof that James is the one making these comments but I believe it is him.”

                      TomDPerkins (June 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm)
                      “No, but it’s fair game when someone has ridiculous opinions with no basis in reality. And that’s Gary Church and his sockpuppet, James.”

                      Sure am glad “TomDPerkins” only deals in “reality” and only ” brings the math”.

                      Otherwise this comments section would descend to the level of an Elementary School Yard. 🙂

                    • Tom's Drinking Game

                      TomDPerkins said Gary Church. DRINK!

  • James

    “But former Defense Secretary William Perry’s authoritative memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,’ is a clear, sobering and, for many, surprising warning that the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is actually greater than it was during that era of U.S.-Soviet competition. After a long career in and out of government in which he was at the center of the policy imperative to prevent the use of these weapons – from the grim paradoxes in shoring up fragile deterrence to the enlightened promotion of successful arms control agreements during the Cold War and beyond – Perry warns us that our actions today are in no way commensurate with the growing nuclear danger, a peril that could change our lives in awful and barbaric ways if not end civilization outright.” From: “On the Brink of Oblivion William Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink’” By Mortimer B. Zuckerman Chairman, Editor-in-Chief June 7, 2016 At: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-07/four-paths-to-nuclear-disaster

  • James

    ‘John McCain and Elon Musk: Corporate cronies gone wild’ By Jenny Beth Martin June 8, 2016 The Washington Times At: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/8/john-mccain-and-elon-musk-corporate-cronies-gone-w/

    • James

      “Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.
      And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.”

      And “But public subsidies for Musk’s companies stand out both for the amount, relative to the size of the companies, and for their dependence on them.”

      From: ‘Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies’ By Jerry Hirsch May 30, 2015 At: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

      “Dr. Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physics professor at Arizona State University, dismissed the notion of quickly terraforming Mars as ‘wildly speculative.’

      ‘It is silly to expect Mars to become easily habitable,’ Krauss said. ‘In the near term, other than some astronauts who don’t mind dying on Mars, I think the rest of us are stuck on Earth.'”

      From: ‘Sorry, Elon Musk: One Does Not Simply Nuke Mars Into Habitability’
      By Andres Jauregui Editor, The Huffington Post 9/11/2015 At: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elon-musk-nuke-mars_us_55f1c071e4b093be51bdfffc

      Some folks may have forgotten, but Congress and the world’s space agencies are more interested in tapping the Moon’s resources and developing the rest of Cislunar Space than they are in nuking “Mars Into Habitability”.

      Using ULA’s large hydrolox powered Delta IV Heavy for enabling Lunar ISRU base resupply missions does seem quite doable.

      • More mathless assertions with neither facts nor logic behind them.

        It is a certainty there are places SolarCity cannot operate profitably without a subsidy, but that is the least of Musk’s enterprises and it would simply contract to where it is profitable if no subsidies when no subsidies are available.

        Paypal never had a whiff of subsidy about it, and SpaceX can only be said to have a subsidy, where it’s supposed competition in ULA has a far greater one (and Musk’s detractors seem not to care about that).

        Tesla makes money on every car it sells with no subsidy, and it will continue to do so when the subsidy is no longer available after they sell their 20,000 care and the subsidy ends.

        There is very little distinction to draw between using nukes to terraform Mars, and using asteroids as has long been established a mechanism for the same–but the distinction that some asteroidal impact is required to spin up the planet and establish a magnetic field.

        Will Mars ever be terraformed? Who knows, but nukes are the least technologically laughable or difficult part of the prospect. Should the Moon’s resources be exploited? Sure…

        …That is no detraction at all from the fact it should be done at as low a cost as possible, and that for now solely SpaceX can deliver that service. ULA rationally has no part to play in it.

        • Larry Church

          I agree Tom, the PayPal miracle was an example of Elon’s genius and superior mental processes. Proof that his theory of reality being a computer simulation is true. So his electric cars and plans for nuking Mars will work even though it seems in this reality they do not make any sense. It is his reality so it will work. ULA is much like the agents in the matrix and are a problem that needs to be dealt with once and for all.

  • A thoroughly well-researched article with a wealth of information. The importance of this launch underscores our need to continually monitor our adversaries.

    • James

      With the President and Mr. Musk strongly encouraging the international proliferation of private, cheap, and deadly accurate ICBMs/launchers as America’s and the world’s de facto new space access policy our Cold War II is a much more rocky road than the Cold War I road.

      “Moscow (UPI) May 12, 2016 – Russian officials sounded off against a newly activated U.S. missile defense site in Romania, calling it a threat to Russia and European stability in general.”

      And, “Located in Deveselu in southern Romania, the missile interceptor station will help defend NATO members against the threat of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, particularly from the Middle East, officials said.”
      From: ‘US missile shield in Romania goes live to Russian fury’ By Mihaela Rodina Deveselu, Romania (AFP) May 12, 2016 at Spacedaily

      “But critics of the plan contend that government sales of the cheap missile motors could damage the dozen or more small-satellite launch companies that have cropped up. Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Branson, is currently building LauncherOne, a launch vehicle designed to blast small satellites weighing less than 1,102 pounds into orbit.” From: ‘How politics could disrupt the SpaceX rocket revolution’ By Samantha Masunaga
      May 12, 2015 Los Angeles Times

      Mr. Musk and the President’s world wide “rocket revolution” will increase the incentives and opportunities for the proliferation of rocket technology while adding many new instabilities and civilian deaths due to widely available ‘private’, cheap, and deadly accurate ICBMs/launchers across our planet.

      In the non Space Cadet real world the cheap and private international “rocket revolution” that the President and Mr. Musk now sow is the planet wide cheap and ugly ICBM “revolution” that we will reap.

      Many more costly spy satellites, including ones like Craig Covault’s above noted “top secret $1.7 billion National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Mentor/Advanced Orion eavesdropping satellite” are needed to keep track of the new launchers, rocket technology specialists, and launch risks everywhere.

      “I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.” John F. Kennedy Sound clip available at http://www.hark.com/clips/jrtwwpgkcp-not-as-dramatic
      Or read his full American University Speech of June 10, 1963 at PBS.

      Risks to peace are becoming so pervasive and complicated that AI has an ever increasing role in trying to do real time monitoring and coordination of defensive responses.

      Yep, turn everything over to HAL.

      “HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”
      From: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

      Welcome to Cold War II.

  • […] sig har satelliten en gigantisk avlyssningsantenn, enligt den amerikanska privata rymdsajten Americaspace, som startades 2009 av två […]

  • […] sig har satelliten en gigantisk avlyssningsantenn, enligt den amerikanska privata rymdsajten Americaspace, som startades 2009 av två […]

  • Jeff Wright

    I want to see the size dishes SLS or BFR could lob up there.

  • So, it seems likely Gary Michael Church has decided to fake my name on posts here.

    I have had a blog for many years, and under my own name. I don’t post there much.

    I address the matter there, viewable at this link.

    https://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/2016/06/anti-spacex-nuts-enjoy-crankery.html

    There are few people I’ve run into in life more scummy than Gary Michael Church. He complains of thuggery–he’s the thug. He complains of censorhip–he’s the censor. He complains of people faking his identity–he’s already destroyed his reputation by using sockpuppets.

    In the future, when I become aware of him faking my name on posts, I will make that known on that blog linked to above, under my own name, and verifiably so.

  • So from the topic of and off topic nature of his posts, and his tone, James is all but certainly yet another sock puppet of the idiot Gary Church. “James” may or may not deny that, doesn’t matter either way.

    http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-anti-spacex-crankery-of-james-so.html

    No, SpaceX has nothing to do with proliferating ICBM technology.

    • Tom's Drinking Game

      TomDPerkins said Gary Church. DRINK!

    • Larry Church

      Not just ICBMs, but ugly ICBMs. Because apparently there is a difference according to James.

      • TomDPerkins

        James is actually a Gary Church sockpuppet and probably Joe also. Even you might be a sockpuppet as far as I know because who is who is sometimes a difficult problem to solve- just like how SpaceX is able to keep their prices so low. The ICBMs are going to be the new product that SpaceX markets so cheaply that every nation will be able to afford them- cheap access to mass destruction being Elon’s plan for getting people to retire on Mars. He will have plenty of tickets to sell for this BFR coloy ship when this new business plan kicks off.

  • James

    “And in order to reach the space station, we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable. (Applause.)

    Now, I recognize that some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree.”

    And, “By buying the services of space transportation — rather than the vehicles themselves — we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met. But we will also accelerate the pace of innovations as companies — from young startups to established leaders — compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.”

    From: ‘REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON SPACE EXPLORATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY’ April 15, 2010
    John F. Kennedy Space Center Merritt Island, Florida 2:55 P.M. EDT At: http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/trans/obama_ksc_trans.html

    And who is going to constantly monitor and assure that the computers of all these young “more affordable” ICBM/launcher “startups” in America and everywhere else, and those home computers of their current and previous employees, are secure from ‘private’ ICBM/launcher plan hackers?

    Are there any folks on this planet who might try to kidnap such current or previous ICBM/launcher startup employees to gain the information needed to build cheap and deadly accurate ICBMs?

    “NASA Administrator Bolden’s Statement On Falcon 9 Launch
    WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following statement about SpaceX’s launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule:

    ‘While rocket launches from the Cape are considered a common occurrence, the historic significance of today’s achievement by SpaceX should not be lost.’

    ‘This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems that will help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit.’

    From: RELEASE : 10-327 NASA Administrator Bolden’s Statement On Falcon 9 Launch
    Dec. 8, 2010 At: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/dec/HQ_10-327_SpaceX_Launch.html

    Cheap and ‘privately’ owned ICBMs/launchers, such as the government subsidized Falcon, Falcon 9, and Falcon Heavy by SpaceX, have become the new mantra of American space access with the economic goal of ‘winning back’ the international satellite launch market from Europe, a launch market that America used to ‘own’.

    “Personally I think that most people running the space programs around the world are very happy with high launch costs, outside of manufacturing and selling. High launch costs basically keep the riff-raff out and reduce the number of players.”
    From Page 11 of ‘Toward a Theory of Space Power: Defining Principles for U.S. Space Policy’ By James Oberg May 20, 2003

    “The new imaging satellites and other small satellites, or smallsats, have created a large and growing demand for small, affordable launch vehicles. Over 20 new launch vehicles are being developed to serve this demand.”
    From: ‘Effects of changing economics on space architecture and engineering’ By Gary Oleson May 16, 2016 At: The Space Review

    Since America and SpaceX have clearly demonstrated the many ‘benefits’ of cheap low tech ‘private’ launchers/ICBMs, other countries and individuals around the world now have critical economic, technical, and security reasons to imitate SpaceX with their own cheap, ‘private’, and deadly accurate ICBMs/launchers of various sizes and capabilities.

    The main thing that ‘counts’ is the new ICBM/launcher’s cheapness, not America’s or the world’s security or how that security is negatively affected by the cheap international ICBM/launcher race initiated and encouraged by the Mars soon guy Elon Musk and his key political Mars soon supporter the President.

    Note the President’s above comment “Now, I recognize that some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree.”

    The President’s and Mr. Elon Musk’s de facto encouragement of the international proliferation of many new ‘private’ cheap and deadly accurate ICBMs/launchers across our world was incredibly foolish and puts at risk both civilians and folks in military units everywhere.

    Trying to justify the diverse risks inherent in those many new cheap, accurate, and ‘private’ ICBMs/launchers by Elon Musk loudly proclaiming that SpaceX is going to use cheap ICBMs/launchers to soon start colonizing that cold, distant, and radiation rich planet called Mars is absurd.

    • “Trying to justify the diverse risks inherent in those many new cheap, accurate, and ‘private’ ICBMs/launchers by Elon Musk loudly proclaiming that SpaceX is going to use cheap ICBMs/launchers to soon start colonizing that cold, distant, and radiation rich planet called Mars is absurd.”

      Trying to claim the liquid fueled Falcon series or BFR have anything to do with ICBM, IRBM, or TBM technology is absurd. This fits well, Gary, because you are absurd.

      Many nations have already developed this technology, which is conceptually well over a hundred years old, and which first saw wartime use over 73 years ago, because it suits their strategic needs. They did so long before Musk was heard of and would continue to do so if dropped dead and SpaceX burned to the ground tonight. SpaceX’s success does nothing to potentiate or incentivize the proliferation of such technology.

  • James

    “Trying to claim the liquid fueled Falcon series or BFR have anything to do with ICBM, IRBM, or TBM technology is absurd.”

    Nope. Trying to claim the cheap Falcon series of rockets and all the new cheap Falcon inspired ICBMs/launchers are not dual use systems is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of both history and technology.

    Both of our famous Atlas and Titan ICBM/launcher families use liquid propellants.

    The German V-2 or Vergeltungswaffe 2 or Retribution Weapon 2, was a liquid propellant ballistic missile/launcher.

    “A space workhorse
    Main articles: Soyuz (rocket), Soyuz-U and Soyuz-FG”

    “The Soyuz launcher was introduced in 1966, deriving from the Vostok launcher, which in turn was based on the 8K74 or R-7a intercontinental ballistic missile.”

    And, “The Soyuz launch vehicle is the most frequently used and reliable launch vehicle in the world.”

    And, “All Soyuz rockets use RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant, with the exception of the Soyuz-U2, which used Syntin, a variant of RP-1, with LOX.”

    And, “It has become the world’s most used space launcher, flying over 1700 times, far more than any other rocket. Despite its age and perhaps thanks to its simplicity, this rocket family has been notable for its low cost and very high reliability, both of which appeal to commercial clients.”

    From: ‘Soyuz (rocket family)’ Wikipedia

    “Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was exported widely to both Second and Third World countries.”

    And, “The name Scud has been widely used to refer to these missiles and the wide variety of derivative variants developed in other countries based on the Soviet design.”

    “Three districts in the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo and the nearby city of Tel Rifat were hit by ballistic missiles on 22 February 2013, flattening up to 20 houses in each of the places hit. Human Rights Watch inspector Ole Solvang toured the areas supposedly targeted by SCUDs on 25 February, saying that he ‘has never seen such destruction’ during his past visits to the country. According to the New York-based organization at least 141 people were killed in the attacks, including 71 children.”

    From: ‘Scud’ Wikipedia

    “The Falcon rocket family is an American family of multi-use rocket launch vehicles developed and operated by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).”
    From: ‘Falcon (rocket family)’ Wikipedia

    Elon Musk’s and the President’s reinvention and demonstration of the ‘benefits’ of low tech rocketry and their loud promotion of the proliferation of deadly accurate cheap, or “more affordable”, ‘private’ ICBM/launchers and rocket technology as the new mantra for American and international access to space is an inane and dangerous space policy that is justified with the incredibly bizarre and nonscientific excuse that such cheap rockets will allow us to soon colonize Mars.

    With the extremely short-sighted political support of the President, Elon Musk and his many imitators have reinvented dual use cheap SCUD missile technology and made such new rockets much more accurate and capable of hitting targets anywhere on our planet.

    Thank you Mr. President and Mr. Musk. for your strong encouragement and support of proliferating the building of new, deadly accurate, cheap, low tech, and ‘private’ Super Long Range Scuds and improved versions of the low cost “8K74 or R-7a intercontinental ballistic missile”.

    We will all sleep much better tonight because our President and Mr. Musk have politically and technologically enabled and strongly encouraged every nation, billionaire, and group of rocket lovers across our planet to imitate the new, cheap, low tech, and ‘private’ rocket capabilities that make every home on Earth a potential target.

    Welcome to the President’s and Mr. Musk’s cheap ICBM/launcher enabled Cold War II.

    • Joe

      That is quite a bit of detailed information considering that according to “TomDPerkins” you are nothing more than a “sockpuppet” of “Gary Church” who is “an unable scumbag” and cannot “bring the math” (meaning verifiable details). Reference the post at
      June 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm.

      Perhaps “TomDPerkins” would care to refute the presented details point by point, rather than just call people names. Then again perhaps not.

    • James

      “The enforcement of this quarantine led the two world’s two leading powers very close to a nuclear exchange. According to a review of former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,’ on The New York Review of Books, a Soviet submarine that was stopped by the quarantine was armed with nuclear torpedoes and had decided to use them.”

      “‘Moscow had authorized the submarine commanders to fire without further authorization,” The New York Review of Books writes, summarizing a passage from Perry. “When an American destroyer tried to force a submarine to surface, both its captain and the political officer decided to fire a nuclear torpedo at the destroyer.'”

      “‘A nuclear confrontation was avoided only because Vasili Arkhipov, the overall commander of the fleet, was also present on the submarine,’ the review continued. ‘He countermanded the order to launch, thereby preventing what might have started a nuclear war.'”

      From: ‘That moment when the Soviets decided to use nuclear weapons against the US’ By Jeremy Bender
      At: http://uk.businessinsider.com/soviets-decided-to-use-nuclear-weapons-2016-6?yptr=yahoo

      We were lucky in Cold War I.

      With the President’s and Mr. Musk’s strong encouragement of the international proliferation cheap ICBMs/launchers Cold War II is going to require a lot of excellent Luck. However, Luck is fickle.

  • Joe

    Ordinary humans cannot begin to comprehend the sense of empowerment it must give you to be able to speak for everyone.

    Still it is a wonder that one with your omnipotent powers would not simply ignore conversations that bore you.

    Your kindness in lowering yourself to talk to your inferiors is to be greatly admired.

  • James

    “Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the second world war. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and families were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the destruction of this country east of Chicago.

    Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries will be the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war — which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation’s closest allies — our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could better be devoted to combat ignorance, poverty, and disease.

    We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle with suspicion on one side breeding suspicion on the other, and new weapons begetting counter-weapons.

    In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours — and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations and only those treaty obligations which are in their own interest.

    So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.

    Third: Let us re-examine our attitude towards the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points.”

    John F. Kennedy American University Speech of June 10, 1963
    At: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/jfk-university/