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American military communications satellite. One launch, 1998.01.29, USA 137. There was no firm information on this classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

AKA: SDS-C. Status: Operational 1998.

It was at first believed to be a follow-on to the SDS data relay satellites that routed reconnaissance satellite imaging to ground stations, with secondary missile warning or ELINT equipment. However it was inadvertently revealed in 1998 that at least one payload was a prototype COBRA BRASS infrared early warning satellite sensor. It was likely that it may have been a technology test satellite combining equipment for several future projects.

The project seemed to have been several years behind schedule (based on the launch vehicle serial number).

An Odetics Corporation press release of March 1998 inadvertently provided evidence that at least one payload was indeed a Cobra Brass prototype:


Odetics SSR Operational In Space on Cobra Brass Payload

Anaheim, Calif. - March 15, 1998 - Odetics was informed today by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) that "the Cobra Brass payload containing an Odetics solid-state recorder (SSR) is fully operational in space." The SSR and payload have been undergoing extensive integration and testing since delivery of the SSR in 1996.

"The Cobra Brass solid-state recorder is one of several Model SSR 1620s delivered to SNL. The SSR 1620 is a unique dual-functioning SSR that can operate as two independent units or in parallel to provide over 400 Mbps record rate," explained Bob Tripp, business development manager for space data storage products. The Cobra Brass SSR supplied to SNL is nearly identical to the one Odetics provided SNL for the Multispectral Thermal Imager (MTI) mission scheduled for launch this year. "The main differentiating feature is in radiation tolerance," according to Mr. Tripp.

Odetics' Communication Division is an international supplier of highly reliable tape and solid-state recorders (SSR) for commercial and government space programs. Odetics has pioneered data storage in space since 1969 and delivered more than 350 space-qualified recorders for space missions. Recent new programs are Boeing's SBIRS/LADS and Japan's USERS. Odetics' headquarters are located in Anaheim, CA, with additional operations in Europe and Asia.


Family: Communications, Military communications sat, Molniya orbit. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: Atlas, Atlas IIA. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC36A. Agency: NRO, Hughes. Bibliography: 2, 278.

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