Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
Appendix 3: Space Vehicles
Copyright © 2005-2008 Jos Heyman|
(HTML formatting by Andreas Parsch)
The Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite (NOSS) system is possibly the most secretive of US military satellite programmes. The satellites in this programme use radar and other electronic equipment to locate enemy naval vessels. It is believed that the satellites carry side and forward looking radars, multi-spectral scanners and infrared detectors. The latter have a capability to detect warm water in the wake of a submerged submarine.
The first generation operational system (NOSS 1) consisted of a number of satellites placed at 120° apart and has also been referred to as Whitecloud. Since 1986 the satellites are also identified in the USA series of military satellites. They did not receive a designation in the S-for-Satellite series.
|Image: Author's collection|
|NOSS-1 (1976 038A)|
A precursor programme, in which no satellites were launched, was known as Oasis or Program 749.
NOSS 1 satellites were usually accompanied by sub-satellites which were deployed from the parent satellite on a 5 km tether which was later cut. The sub-satellites were used in triangulation methods to calculate a ship's position. The early NOSS satellites had a mass of 590 kg but the mass has increased to 6800 kg. A second generation was commenced with NOSS 2-1 whilst the third generation commenced with NOSS 3-1.
The accompanying sub-satellites have been identified by a variety of names, including Surveillance Satellite Unit (SSU), as well as GB, JD, SS or EP, acronyms for which the meaning is not known. Early precursor satellite had a mass of 123 kg. The first operational series, between 1976 and 1987, operated at a distance of 50 to 240 km between individual satellites. A second generation was introduced in 1990 and these were of a new design with updated reconnaissance and data communication equipment and they operated at a closer distance of 30 to 110 km. Some sub-satellites in this series, were launched separately. With the commencement of the NOSS 3 generation of satellites, sub-satellites are no longer separately acknowledged. Visual observations have, however, confirmed their presence and they are formally identified as 'debris'.
|NOSS-1||1976 038A||30-Apr-1976||Also known as Ops-6431|
|NOSS-2||1977 112A||8-Dec-1977||Also known as Ops-8781|
|NOSS-3||1980 019A||3-Mar-1980||Also known as Ops-7245|
|NOSS||---||9-Dec-1980||---||Also known as Ops-3255; failed to orbit|
|NOSS-4||1983 008A||9-Feb-1983||Also known as Ops-0252|
|NOSS-5||1983 056A||9-Jun-1983||Also known as Ops-6432|
|NOSS-6||1984 012A||5-Feb-1984||Also known as Ops-8737|
|NOSS-7||1986 014A||9-Feb-1986||Also known as USA-15|
|NOSS-8||1987 043A||15-May-1987||Also known as USA-22|
|NOSS-9||1988 078A||5-Sep-1988||Also known as USA-32|
|NOSS-10||1989 072A||6-Sep-1989||Also known as USA-45|
|NOSS-11||1992 023A||25-Apr-1992||Also known as Ops-4221 and USA-81|
|NOSS 2-1||1990 050A||8-Jun-1990||Also known as USA-59|
|NOSS 2-2||1991 076A||8-Nov-1991||Also known as USA-72|
|NOSS 2-3||---||2-Aug-1993||---||Failed to orbit|
|NOSS 2-4||1996 029D||12-May-1996||Also known as USA-122|
|NOSS 3-1||2001 040A||8-Sep-2001||Also known as USA-160|
|NOSS 3-2||2003 054A||2-Dec-2003||Also known as USA-173|
|NOSS 3-3||2005 004A||3-Feb-2005||Also known as USA-181|
|NOSS 3-4||2007 027A||15-Jun-2007||Also known as USA-194|
Launch dates of the NOSS series
|EP-3||1980 052C||18-Jun-1980||Also known as Ops-1292|
|---||---||2-Aug-1993||---||Three satellites failed to orbit|
Launch dates of NOSS sub-satellites (excluding those formally identified as 'debris')
Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 3