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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpaceX launches NRO satellite and lands back at Kennedy. 4th landing back on land.

So funny thing.

Usually, the nerds have a pretty goddamn good idea what any given NRO payload is months/years before it goes up based on where it's launching, what it's launching on, and what's already in the sky. Yet Gunter's Space Page has no clue what NROL-76 is.

Typically, the patches are already on the secondary market by the time the launch goes up. There are often three or four versions, and the nerds love to pick them apart to see what they mean. This has had hilarious results like when the mission patch for NROL-11 actually gave up the orbit. But the mission patches for NROL-76 not only don't exist in patch form, not only aren't anywhere near the secondary market, but are pretty much devoid of symbology and quite clearly drawn by the same guy who draws all of SpaceX's patches.

http://spaceflight101.com/falcon-9-nrol-76/nrol-76-satellite/

I'ma go out on a limb and argue that this is a "spec" launch by SpaceX to demonstrate to the NRO that they can launch classified satellites like the big boys.





BurnTheBarricade  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Interesting! What specifically do you mean by "spec" launch, like would it contain a satellite designed to deorbit or some sort of backup payload for a mass already in orbit?

Side note, that patch looks awesome. We need that guy to make some scifi-based mission patches, or something.

kleinbl00  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That patch is retarded. I own this one:

They got in trouble for this one:

By "spec launch" I mean SpaceX paid for the satellite "on spec" - as in, this is a Space-X funded mission in order to get the NRO to sign on with Space X. "spec work" is stuff you do for free in pursuit of future business opportunities. I mean whatever the payload is, it isn't something the NRO gives much of a shit about.

BurnTheBarricade  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I just think patches are cool in general. Those are two neat ones, I'd only seen the octopus. I'm a sucker for stylized art.

kleinbl00  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's cool. I'm a patch snob, don't mind me. This is one of my favorite books.

user-inactivated  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I mean whatever the payload is, it isn't something the NRO gives much of a shit about.

That is an interesting idea. Give SpaceX an old satellite sitting in the hangar and see if they can handle the launch. IF they fuck up, all you do is release data on a 10+ year old bird and can use that leak as a red herring to hide what you can actually do. And if they launch and it all works? you get an asset in space and save a ton of money on warehousing the expensive hardware.

kleinbl00  ·  1924 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're clever, dig into that Spaceflight 101 article. They think it's a leftover version of Worldview 3.

Guaranteed, a few days from now the geeks will have NROL-76's orbit. Run the numbers on an optical payload similar to that one and figure out what sort of resolution it gets at perigee.

1) Sometimes the most useful images are the oblique ones and an electrooptical bird looking sidelong is a lot harder to predict than an electrooptical bird looking straight down.

2) off-the-shelf hardware, bespoke performance is kind of a SpaceX mantra. The last KH-11 we put up cost something dumb like $8 billion; if SpaceX can demonstrate a tenth the performance at a hundredth the budget they might get paid next time.

I mean, it could be an SDS like they're suggesting. It could be NEMESIS like Ted Molczan is suggesting. But we won't really know until someone picks it up.