Vehicle: Delta 2 (7925)
Payload: GeoLITE
Launch date: May 18, 2001
Launch window: 1707-1826 GMT (1:07-2:26 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-17B, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Satellite broadcast: Galaxy 4R, Trans. 20,C-band

The GeoLITE spacecraft inside TRW factory. Photo: NRO

pics taken from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

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The National Reconnaissance Office's Geosynchronous Lightweight Technology Experiment (GeoLITE) satellite was built by TRW.

GeoLITE is an advanced technology demonstration satellite with a laser communications experiment and an operational UHF communications mission. The GeoLITE satellite will weigh approximately 4,000 pounds and be launched on a Boeing Delta 2 launch vehicle.

This is the first mission for TRW's T-310 satellite bus, a new lightweight, highly stable platform capable of a range of missions. TRW has system integration responsibility for GeoLITE, including the satellite development, integration and preparation for launch.

The satellite was designed and built in 3 1/2 years using streamlined program methodologies.

TRW's T-310 modular bus design provides flexible capability for a variety of applications, including geostationary communications and weather observation missions, as well as planetary missions. The design features common subsystems scalable to the mission-specific needs.

Instrument payloads can be attached on a "mix and match" basis without changes in the overall design or subsystem support requirements. Weighing less than 1,500 pounds and equipped with 1.2 kilowatts (end-of-life) of electric power, the T-310 bus for GeoLITE is built of lightweight composite materials that allow for increased instrument weight and reduced launch costs.

TRW's GeoLITE program team initiated several innovative commercial process improvements throughout the development of the spacecraft, including a small project team, modular assembly and test, streamlined business practices and Web-based documentation. These process improvements enabled less costly spacecraft design, shortened the integration and test schedule and facilitated program execution.

TRW Inc. has total system integration responsibility for GeoLITE. Teammates include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, which will be responsible for the laser communications payload, and Hughes Space and Communications Company, which will be responsible for the UHF communications payload.

GeoLITE is another example of the NRO engaging in cutting edge technology to assure the United States continues to be the worldıs leader in satellite reconnaissance.


Boeing will use a Delta 2 7925-9.5 to launch the GeoLITE satellite for the NRO.

Boeing manufactures Delta rockets in Huntington Beach, Calif., with final assembly in Pueblo, Colo. The 7925-9.5 three-stage launch vehicle has five major assemblies: the first stage, including main engine and nine strap-on solid propellant rocket motors; interstage; second stage; third stage and 9.5-foot diameter payload fairing. The Delta 2 is approximately 126 feet tall and eight feet wide.

Manufactured by Rocketdyne, a division of Boeing, the RS-27A main engine operates on liquid oxygen and RP-1 (kerosene). The RS-27A has a sea-level thrust of 200,000 pounds. Each of the three Alliant Techsystems solid strap-on motors has a sea-level thrust of 100,270 pounds. The main engine and the four solid rocket motors deliver a total thrust of 483,000 pounds at liftoff.

An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powers the second stage and burns Aerozine-50 fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. Ignited at altitude, the engine has a vacuum-rated thrust of 9,815 pounds.

The third stage is Thiokol's Star 48B solid-propellant stage.

The Boeing family of launch vehicles is derived from the Delta family of rockets built and launched since 1960. In that time 278 Deltas have been launched.

Delta 2 rockets can be configured as two- or three-stage vehicles depending on mission requirements. The latest version, the Delta 2 7925 model, can boost 3,965 pounds (1800 kg) to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

Today, Boeing has a growing list of commercial customers, including Hughes Space and Communications International, Inc., Space Systems/Loral, and Motorola. Delta rocket were used to launch 28 satellites to form the cornerstone of the Globastar system.

To serve its commercial customers, Boeing has agreements with the U.S. Air Force and NASA for the use of two government-owned launch pads at Space Launch Complex 17, Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., and one pad at Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Major subcontractors include: Alliant Techsystems, Magna, Utah, graphite epoxy motors for boost assist; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif., second-stage engine; Thiokol, a subsidiary of Cordant Technologies, Elkton, Md., third-stage solid rocket motor; and L3 Communications Space & Navigation, Teterboro, N.J., Redundant Inertial Flight Control Assembly (RIFCA) provides course and attitude control.