Friday, April 01, 2011

NROL-34: Odin and Frigga

NROL-34 is slated for launch from Vandenberg on April 12th. The Atlas V 411 will launch a secret payload for the NRO: some independant analysts suspect it is a Trumpet SIGINT (of the same type as USA 184 and USA 200), to be launched into a Molniya type orbit.

The mission patch (below) shows the Scandinavian God Odin, recognizable by the eye-patch and the raven on its shoulder. Odin goes accompanied by two raven, and offered an eye to the dwarf Mimir in order to be allowed to drink from the source of Wisdom. As a God he personifies Wisdom, Strength and Battle. Note how these topics come back in the rim text, and how "Wisdom" is a good metaphor for SIGINT:

click image to enlarge

The battle axe could be a stylized version of a satellite with a radio dish (e.g., SIGINT).

The launch patch (below) features Frigga. Frigga is the wife of Odin, and the name as such is probably attached to the launch vehicle:

click image to enlarge

The latter patch is of very similar design to a number of other recent patches (NROL-41 FIA Radar 1, see patch here, and below; and NROL-49). I like this recent new design style, they look much better than the sometimes very generic other recent NRO and USAF Black Space patches.

Note how (as with the other mentioned designs) some letter codes are included in the blue "vermicelli" filling the Earth globe: one can recognize "NROL" (bottom), "Frigga" (top) and what could be a name, "Galth" (?), or possibly "Caltech".

Below are the two mentioned launch patches for NROL-41 and NROL-49 which show a similar design. All three have the earth globe, setting or rising sun (NROL-41 has the setting sun, and this might signify the retrograde orbit of the FIA Radar: note how NROL 49 and the NROL-34 patch have a rising sun), and a heroine/Godess (the Devil in the NROL-49 patch is female, and all patches feature female names: Gladys, Betty and Frigga); plus similar rim text designs:

click images to enlarge:

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