U.S. launched on September 13 at 21:31 UTC Atlas V 401 rocket from SLC-3E ramp of Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The charge was the pair of secret military satellites NROL-36. Besides NROL-36, 11 CubeSats were launched.
The NROL-36 is a military satellite by the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office).
Characteristics are unknown and mission of this satellite, but it is believed that this is actually two satellites of electronic surveillance (SIGINT) Series NOSS (Naval Ocean Surveillance System) to monitor ships and aircraft by their radio transmissions. Specifically, the NROL-36 could be the ninth and the tenth issue of the third generation of these satellites reaching space, a family called informally as NOSS-3. It is estimated that two satellites have a total mass of 6500 kg and will be placed in an orbit of 1100 km altitude and 63 ° inclination. NOSS-3 satellite operating in pairs to triangular signal, unlike the two previous families, which used three vehicles.
Besides the two NROL-36, 11 CubeSats were launched. Aeneas, SMDC-ONE 2.1 (Able), SMDC-ONE 2.2 (Baker), Re (STARE A), Cinema 1, CSSWE, AeroCube 4A, 4B AeroCube, AeroCube 4C, 5 and CXBN CP.
CINEMA (CubeSat for Ion, Neutral, Electron, Magnetic Fields) is a 4-kg CubeSat made jointly by the U.S., UK and South Korea to study the magnetosphere. Aeneas is a 4-kg CubeSat built by the University of Southern California in order to investigate possible applications of technology to monitor cubesat merchandise containers worldwide. The SMDC are prototypes of communications for the U.S. Army. Re is the first issue of the couple STARE (Space-Based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris), developed by the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to monitor space junk. CXBN (Cosmic X-Ray Background) is a small X-ray observatory of the Morehead State University to investigate the diffuse X-ray background CSSWE (Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment) investigates the interaction of the Sun's radiation belts.
The Atlas V is a two-stage rocket that can incorporate solid fuel boosters. The first phase is a CCB (Common Core Booster) of diameter 3.81 m and 32.48 m. The CCB is made of aluminum and has a mass of 21 277 kg inert. It uses liquid oxygen and kerosene (RP-1) with a two-engine combustion chambers RD-180 built in Russia by NPO Energomash. The RD-180 has a dry weight of 5400 kg, a specific impulse of 311.3 (sea level) - 337.8 s (empty) and 390.2 tons of thrust (sea level) - 423.4 tons (empty).
The first stage can be incorporated between zero and three solid rocket motors (SRB) of 1.55 mx 19.5 m, with 1361 kN thrust each (and an Isp of 275 s). The nozzles of each SRB are inclined 3 °.
The second stage is the latest version of the classic stage Centaur cryogenic (liquid oxygen and hydrogen). Has 3.05 mx 12.68 m and makes use of one or two motors RL 10-A-4-2 (Isp of 450.5 s) providing 99.2 kN thrust in one engine version (SEC) or 198.4 kN in two (DEC). Has an inert mass of 2,086 tons and is made of steel. It also has eight hydrazine thrusters and four 40 N 27 N for attitude control of the stage.
The versions of the Atlas V are identified by a three-digit number: the first (4 or 5), indicates the size of the cap (4 or 5 feet in diameter respectively). The coping of this mission is called LPF (Large Payload Fairing), as it was the largest cap used in other ancient versions of the Atlas. The second digit indicates the amount of solid fuel rockets employees (between zero and three for the Atlas V 400 and between zero and five for the Atlas V 500). The last digit indicates the amount of leading phase motors Centaur (one or two). For this release, it was an Atlas V 401 ie includes a cap of 4 meters, no solid rocket motor and a single in the Centaur stage.