Satellite flies under the radar, or Shame on me
HOWARD’S TOWER. Here I was, like so many other aerospace enthusiasts, watching with baited breath as engineers sparked up the Aerojet Rocketdyne engines on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy space launch vehicle in Cape Canaveral, Florida, today. The ULA rocket was intended to deliver into orbit the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite, laden with a reported 15,000 pounds of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance electronics hardware and software payload.
The launch was postponed, and postponed, and then scrapped. All eyes were on ULA, frankly, and why not? The buildup that surrounded the launch of NROL-37 was tremendous. (I stopped short of calling it “hype” because, frankly, nothing was exaggerated.) All aerospace partners involved – ULA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and its ARDE subsidiary, the NRO, NASA, and others – took to the Web and various social media outlets to provide something of a play-by-play.
In the end, the launch was scrapped due to “gloomy weather.” A rainstorm, it seemed, was inching closer. Hey, it happens.
The real reason I’m writing is that while all this was going on – well, not “all” but the world watching and waiting as the launch was readied, postponed, scrubbed, and rescheduled – a launch did occur today.
That’s right. I’m ashamed to admit that I was distracted by the launch of the NROL-37 spy satellite – and I blame social media (and indirectly, my resulting short attention span). I completely missed a successful launch – something this self-proclaimed space geek hates to do.
Intelsat S.A. and International Launch Services (ILS) were just going about their business today, seemingly unnoticed by many, and launched the Intelsat 31 satellite aboard an ILS Proton Breezie M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today. I hear it was a Breeze.
I’ll cease with the self-punishment for now, but I do apologize to the Intelligent Aerospace community and Intelsat and its partners. (I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of Intelsat’s top executives, and found them to be knowledgeable, insightful, well-spoken, and forward-thinking.)
This one, truly, went under the radar. Please do me the favor of reading about it now, by clicking here:
Also, feel free to read about the ULA/NRO mission:
ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket to launch NRO spy satellite with ISR electronics and software payload into orbit
In my defense, the NRO and ULA had cool, eye-catching graphics and interesting Instagram photos: