More information on Titan Launch Dispenser

Allen Thomson (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 18:17:45 -0800

   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 that summarizes the new information.


From: (Allen Thomson)
Subject: Re: NRO + Ralpha [ISSA]
Message-ID: <>
References: <>
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 17:09:47 GMT

In article <> John Pike <> 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 @
>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 @
>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
- 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