Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

Want to see a 60’s era spy sat?

Agena Upper Stage by rob-the-org
Agena Upper Stage, a photo by rob-the-org on Flickr.

This weekend (Sat, 9/17), the NRO will be showing off its newly declassified HEXAGON (KH-9) for one day only at the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, VA.

After it is shown at UHC, it will be taken to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH to go on permanent display there.

Related links;

– NASM Press release –

– Space review article on the upcoming declassification of this and another spy sat (useful for the scale drawing of different sat’s) –

Update – 9/19….

Here is a link to the SpaceflightNow story of the Hexagon display.  Includes a picture of a Hexagon being prepared for flight testing.


Iran’s Satellite launch – real or Photoshop?

By now – everyone should be aware that the Iranian’s launched a small Sputnik type of satellite into low Earth Orbit yesterday.  But what was suprising – was the time that it took for the it to be publicized by the mainstream press.

My daily newsletter from – had this launch as their lead item when I got up in the morning (6am MST).

The headline about the launch from the BBC showed up a couple of hours later – in my crawl bar across the browser.

And then pulling up the rear – was CNN late in the day finally decided they had enough info to publish.  I guess CNN wanted to make sure that they were reporting a real story – and weren’t about to be had by a Photoshop’d picture – like during the Iranian’s Missile test last October (picture below);

Iranian Missile test - enhanced by Photoshop

Iranian Missile test - enhanced by Photoshop

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Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson AZ

Soaring over the mountains

Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

I took a road trip this past weekend down to the Pima Air & Space Museum on the east side of Tucson, AZ this past Saturday. It was my first visit in almost two years, and my first trip with my current camera.

Each time I have gone, I have found something new and surprising, and this trip was no exception. Expect to see the highlights from this trip over the coming days.


[UPDATE] DSP#23 – Dead in orbit

Defense Support Program (DSP)

Originally uploaded by megzzzzz

According to SpaceflightNow’s new ace reporterone of the US Early Warning (DSP) Sat’s stopped responding to commands from the ground in early October (2008), after being in orbit less than a year.

There will be no repeat of the US Navy shooting down this crippled sat – because this one is up in GeoSync orbit. 23,000+ miles up. Well out of range of any modified Standard missiles.

While the loss of what should be a sizeable percentage of the US’s Early Warning capacity (especially on the eve of a Presidential transition) is alarming – that is not the meat of this story….

The surprise in this story is according to the author – the US used to small test bed sat’s that were also in GeoSync to conduct fly-by check’s of the unresponsive DSP bird.

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Missile Defense Test gotcha


Originally uploaded by DanDawson

Lost in the initial euphoria of a successful MDA test at the beginning of this month – was the fact that this wasn’t the “realistic” test that it was supposed to be.

During the announcement of the test – it came out that the countermeasures that were supposed to be part of this test – did not deploy.

This may sound silly or naive – but if we can’t get countermeasures to work on a simple test missile (with all of the time to prep the attempt) – can we realistically expect that a minor power has been able to integrate a successful countermeasure into their ballistic missile?


Russian’s launch new recon sat

According to

Russia launched a top secret military satellite Friday in an unannounced flight from the country’s northern space base, according to news reports.

A Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 1550 GMT (10:50 a.m. EST) Friday. The launcher released the classified satellite payload about nine minutes later.

Russian officials did not provide details of the spacecraft’s mission, but the satellite is likely a Kobalt spy satellite with retrievable film canisters that return to Earth.

The satellite was delivered to an orbit with a high point of about 200 miles and a low point of about 110 miles. The orbit’s inclination is about 67.2 degrees, according to U.S. tracking data.

Russia is calling the satellite Kosmos 2445 under the military’s naming system for defense spacecraft.

They are still using FILM capsules? Hasn’t it been like 20 years since the US has had to do that?

This seems fishy…..


When you absolutely positively have to hit it in 30 minutes

Imagine – you know that a high value target will be at Location “X” in approximately 30 minutes.

It is far from the Continental US and there isn’t a CVBG in range. And Congress (among a host of others – including me) didn’t like the idea of putting conventional warheads on old Minuteman III’s.

The war against Iraq started in 2003 with a strike very much like this. But in this case – there was a B-1 bomber loitering far overhead – that was able to dash in and drop a dedicated load of bombs in an attempt to take out Saddam Hussein (The decapitation strike was a result of Saddam giving false information to a possible traitor on his staff. USAF blew up the building – and Saddam knew who to have shot).

But what do you do when you don’t have a heavy bomber nearby? In Afghanistan – UAV’s – like the Predator and the Reaper have been flying as much as the pilots and the mechanics can support them. Both those still require a forward base for the UAV’s to launched and recovered to.

For years the US has dreamed of having something able to be launched from the continental US and be able to fly at hypersonic speeds to be able to hit a target.

DARPA’s FALCON project – has been an attempt to create just such a system.

The requirement – deliver a 12,000 lb payload, out to 9,000 miles, in under 2 hours.

[This is the first in a series of articles about FALCON – and whether or not it will ever happen]


X-37 – ready for a real test?


Originally uploaded by ryanclark75

AviationWeek’s Ares blog reported yesterday that the X-37 unmanned space plane – has been scheduled to be launched later this Fall – for an on Orbit shakedown.

The X-37 was originally built for NASA by Boeing, but when NASA’s funding was cut the project was taken over by DARPA. DARPA in their cost cutting best – brought Scaled Composite (now owned by Northrup-Grumman) on-board.

[Scaled Composite used White Knight (the same mothership for the SpaceShipOne effort) to perform the drop tests. It turns out that Scaled by using WK – was able to conduct the drop tests for 1/10th what it was costing NASA to use their B-52

SpaceflightNow’s launch schedule is already showing the LRO launch being pushed back to the Spring (2009) – but doesn’t yet show the new Atlas launch for the X-37 demonstrator.

Stay tuned.

[Update – Mon, Aug 4th – Aviation Week has published a broader article listing some of the milestones of the project, as well as the expected goals from the on orbit shakedown flight]