There has been an interesting development concerning the Titan Launch Dispenser associated with the disappearing A object of the NOSS-2s. If I may be permitted the solecism of quoting myself, here's a message from sci.space.policy that summarizes the new information. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Allen Thomson) Subject: Re: NRO + Ralpha [ISSA] Message-ID: <thomsonaE4BH0B.3I7@netcom.com> References: <32E38C72.4B24@fas.org> Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 17:09:47 GMT In article <32E38C72.4B24@fas.org> John Pike <email@example.com> writes: >So the RUMINT is that NASA has selected the NRO/NRL Titan Launch >Dispenser as the propulsion module for the International Space Station >Alpha [aka Ralpha]. Details on the TLD may be found @ > > http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/surveill/open.htm > >The TLD has previously been used by NRO in support of the Navy Triplet >Space Based Wide Area Surveillance System. Some artwork of this >spookbird may be admired @ > > http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/surveill/sbwass_n.htm > >Film at 11 .... > My trusty agent ZZHOPTOAD-2 indicated that this was the case last week, and indeed the 20 January 1997 Aviation Week & Space Technology has a story confirming it on pp. 20 and 21. It's "Secret Navy Spacecraft To Aid Space Station" by Craig Covault. This is an exciting development because the TLD is closely associated with the puzzle of the disappearing "A" objects on NOSS-2 launches. Your initial discovery of the TLD on an NRL Web page was a big break, and the present story adds some details which will aid in the analysis of the vanishment of the satellites. Some factoids from the article which should help: - The TLD-derived Interim Control Module (ICM) will weigh up to 12.5 tons - The ICM has solar cells around its circumference - The ICM carries approximately 12,000 lb of propellant, of which 11,500 is useable for maneuvers. - The ICM is equipped with two deploable booms carrying reaction control systems. - The military (US Navy) version used a 900-lb thrust main engine - The ICM version will use a 110-lb thrust engine - The ICM needs to be converted to three-axis stabilization, implying that the TLD version isn't three-axis stabilized. - The TLD was developed to a STS launch specification, but never used on the Shuttle due to the Challenger accident One important question left is just what the "propellant" is, and thus the isp of the engine. I'd assume hydrazine/nitrogen tetroxide, but this needs to be pinned down. On the policy side, one wonders why the original Lockheed proposal to use the generally similar Bus-1 wasn't chosen instead of the TLD/ICM newcomer.