[amsat-bb] NROL-39 launch seen in San Diego

Phil Karn karn at ka9q.net
Thu Dec 5 23:33:56 PST 2013

Kimberly and I picked it up visually here in San Diego about a minute
before staging. Because of the high inclination (reportedly 123 degrees)
it was faint and far away, but it was unmistakable in binoculars despite
local light pollution. The plume was gradually broadening as it rose
into thinner air.

It disappeared at staging. I didn't expect to see the Centaur upper
stage at night since it burns H2/O2.

The primary payload is a NRO spooksat (reportedly radar imaging) so
coverage stopped at fairing jettison. No word on the cubesat
deployments, but they probably won't be for a while. Several are
supposed to transmit on 70cm.

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