Secret Satellites
Milstar satellite launched in first space shot of 2002
The mission patch for the Milstar 5 launch, which completes the system's constellation. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Milstar satellite launched in first space shot of 2002

The U.S. military on Tuesday launched the final link that will form a "golden ring" of communications satellites around Earth, providing ultra-secure, jam-resistant transmissions for troops and government leaders virtually anywhere on the planet.

The fifth Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellite, dubbed Milstar 5, roared into space atop a $453 million Titan 4B rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Milstar 5 at the factory being readied for launch. Photo: Russ Underwood, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

SOURCE: Spaceflight Now

Titan IVB-30 Liftoff Closes Titan Era at Cape Canaveral
March 30, 2005

Titan IVB-30 ended the 46-year-long Titan program at Cape Canaveral, Florida with a successful launch from Pad 40 on April 30, 2005 (00:50 GMT). The vehicle boosted a secret NRO payload (NRO L-16) into a high-inclination low earth orbit. Observers tracked the satellite in a 57 degree inclination orbit that is consistent with a Lacrosse-type radar imaging mission.

A mission patch sporting the name "Prometheus" has been associated with the flight.

The Mission Patch
Some Insites Into a Secret US Radar Spy Satellite

11 July 2007
I've heard talk about it for a while, but this is the most I've seen in terms of public hard facts. Of interest is how the name describes the vehicle. The antenna does resemble the business end of a Lacrosse stick. 
Posted by Matthew Saroff

Russian Telescope Images Top-Secret NRO Lacrosse

(Subscription Required)
Aviation Week & Space Technology
07/09/2007, page 28

Craig Covault
Cape Canaveral

Top-secret U.S. space-based radar imaged by Russian telescope

Printed headline: Lacrosse Revealed

After 20 years of secrecy, the overall design of the 15-ton U.S. National Reconnaissance Office Lacrosse space-based radar and its remarkable 25-ft.-dia. imaging radar antenna are revealed in images of Lacrosse-2 at 400 mi. altitude taken by a Russian military ground-based telescope.

The images (above) were taken by a 28-channel adaptive optical system at the Russian Altay Laser/Optical Center. The site is one of several operated by the Science Research Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering. The line-of-sight distance from the Russian optics to the Lockheed Martin Lacrosse was more than 500 mi.

Views taken by a Russian ground-based telescope of a 15-ton NRO Lacrosse space-based imaging radar satellite reveal its secret 25-ft. mesh synthetic aperture radar antenna, developed by Harris Corp. near Cape Canaveral.Credit: RUSSIAN SCIENCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR PRECISION INSTRUMENT ENGINEERING
No unclassified imagery of a complete Lacrosse has ever been released by the NRO in nearly 20 years of radar satellite operations. The design matches the drawing at center. Credit: CHARLES P. VICK - GLOBALSECURITY.ORG
Lacrosse 5 / USA 182 imaged ?

Lacrosse 5 was launched April 30 carried aloft by its Titan IV B-30 rocket.

Although a classified mission , the rocket and payload were soon spotted by the satellite community and thanks to Ted Molczan and fellow members of the SeeSat-L list, visual tracking data was compiled. On May 4 , Lacrosse 5 carried out a manoeuvre to lift its orbit. Shortly afterwards as both rocket and satellite passed over the UK , the following images were obtained: See Here

Single frames , re-sized by 300% reveal the following......


On the evening of January 22 2007 Lacrosse 5 made a 69 deg sunlit pass over the UK.  The [images] below are made up of two frames captured at a magnification of about 500X. The images have been processed as follows:
Dark frame subtraction; Enlarged by a factor of 200%; Gamma adjustment


Last August I also imaged a 57 deg pass by Lacrosse 5. The results have not been released until now.
Notice in the two frame animation below , from August 7 2006 , how similar the two results are... apart from the attitude of the spacecraft , which appears to be in an opposite pointing mode.
Range was 844KM ... Pass time 2220GMT


Latest images of Lacrosse 5

On the evening of April 1 2007 Lacrosse 5 made a high elevation pass ( 83 degs 22:31:28 BST) through clear and stable skies. Transparency was good and I was lucky enough to be able to follow most of the pass through the telescope viewfinder. At an elevation of about 65 degs the spacecraft increased suddenly in brightness , then disappeared for 20-30 seconds , before re-appearing , slightly dimmer.
At about 22:32:20 it entered shadow.

The animation below shows the satellite in approach (first two frames) then moving away ( final frame ) after coming back into view. Range to target approx 730km at closest point.


This is the first time I have managed to image the satellite before and after "disappearance" .
The final frames seem to confirm the complex structure of the spacecraft...


Work and Images by John Locker... See more at his website;


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