Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
carousel image
 
KH-11 Status- 2013 August


Tyneside, UK
2023 Feb 4
Saturday, Day 35

Curated by:






















KH-11 Orbits

With the NRO L-65 launch 2013 August 28 adding to the on-orbit constellation. Here is a summary of the satellites currently in orbit. Orbit details are sparse, and depend on observations made by amateurs because element sets are not issued by SpaceTrack.

The first thing to note is that the first two satellites listed are probably being used in a different way to the newer ones. The fact that they are still in orbit suggests that their payloads are still operating but are maybe being used for some specific tasks rather than the routines of the other two that seem to be fully operational.

KH-11 satellites use sun-synchronous orbits. Looking only at USA 186 and USA 224, it is noteworthy how little the LTDN has changed over the years. KH-11 orbits need periodic orbit boosts to counteract the effects of air drag and maintain the 260 x 1020 kilometre orbit. The boosts also control the position of perigee and the tendency to drift 'off station'. With the two earliest satellites, less control is being exercised over the orbit height so drift in Right Ascension of the Nodes is no longer compensating properly for the Earth's movement round the Sun.

USA 245 is intended initially to work alongside USA 186. Eventually it will take over its duties and USA 186 may take over the rôle of USA 129. The latter may then be sent to a destructive re-entry. Note that the early descending node time for USA 186 is similar to that of USA 129 that it replaced, and the relationship between USA 224 and USA 161 is similar.


1996-072
Titan 404A
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA

1996 Dec 20,   18:04 UTC
USA 129  (KH-11 Block-3 F3/Crystal)
1996-072A
24680

in orbit
KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Launch tagged as NRO L-2. Orbital elements not released by Spacetrack so parameters are based on amateur observation.

epoch (UTC)
s-m axis
( km )

ecc
perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl
( ° )
ω 
( ° )
desc node
local time
2000 Nov 29, 21:0570250.0509289100497.6697.8315909:44
2005 May 13, 22:1570290.0528280102297.7597.9727009:44
2011 Aug 28, 19:2569570.041529086796.2497.7130208:57
2013 Aug 22, 19:4069180.033330977195.4497.57509:04

2001-044
Titan 404B
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA

2001 Oct 5,   21:21 UTC
USA 161  (KH-11 Block-3 F4/Crystal)
2001-044A
26934

in orbit
KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Launch tagged as NRO L-14. Orbital elements not released by Spacetrack so parameters are based on amateur observation.

epoch (UTC)
s-m axis
( km )

ecc
perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl
( ° )
ω 
( ° )
desc node
local time
2005 May 11, 23:4170270.034540689197.7097.9016012:47
2010 Oct 15, 21:0170160.046830996697.4797.9021413:03
2013 Aug 8, 02:0167670.000638539392.3497.034114:18

2005-042
Titan 404B
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA

2005 Oct 19,   18:05 UTC
USA 186  (KH-11 Block-4 F1?/Crystal)
2005-042A
28888

in orbit
KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Launch tagged as NRO L-20. Orbital elements not released by Spacetrack so parameters are based on amateur observation.

epoch (UTC)
s-m axis
( km )

ecc
perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl
( ° )
ω 
( ° )
desc node
local time
2005 Oct 31, 11:2270350.0557265104997.8797.8714609:45
2013 Aug 22, 21:0670200.0541262102297.5697.9423009:43

2011-002
Delta IV Heavy
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA

2011 Jan 20,   21:10 UTC
USA 224  (KH-11 Block-4 F2?/Crystal)
2011-002A
37348

in orbit
KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Commercial launch by United Launch Alliance tagged as NRO L-49. Launch originally planned for Jan 17 - reason not given for postponement. Orbital elements not released by Spacetrack so parameters are based on amateur observation.

epoch (UTC)
s-m axis
( km )

ecc
perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl
( ° )
ω 
( ° )
desc node
local time
2011 Jan 26, 21:0570160.0549252102397.4797.9024813:01
2013 Aug 6, 00:4170190.0545258102397.5397.8813112:59

2013-043
Delta 4 Heavy
Vandenberg AFB, California, USA

2013 Aug 28,   18:03 UTC
USA 245  (KH- 11 Block-4 F3?/Crystal)
2013-043A

in orbit
KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Commercial launch by United Launch Alliance tagged as NRO L-65. The upper stage of the Delta launch vehicle re-entered mid-Pacific about two hours after launch. Orbital elements not released by Spacetrack so parameters are based on amateur observation. Catalogue number is subject to confirmation.

epoch (UTC)
s-m axis
( km )

ecc
perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl
( ° )
ω 
( ° )
desc node
local time
2013 Aug 29, 03:1370050.032825799797.2597.8719209:49


Page Date: 2013 Aug 24

Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
Reproduction of this web page or any of its content without permission from the website owner is prohibited