An E-mail received late last night from Tom Bell of the Portland Press Herald confirms that the Sage put to sea last night apparently headed for a position in order to monitor the launch of Titan Mission B-30 later this evening.
Bell also quotes US Air Force officials as saying the Titan is expected to lift off at approximately 2050 hrs EDT/ 2220 hrs NDT, the most precise launch information ever released publicly.
The launch is expected to occur between 2000 hr and 2230 hrs Eastern Daylight Savings time this evening. That's 2130 hr on 29 Apr and 0000 30 Apr 05 Newfoundland Daylight Savings Time.
This would confirm that the Sage's mission is to collect and transmit information on the Titan mission for the US Air Force. Bells' story, appearing in today's Press Herald, attributes the extra telemetry to an American desire to show Canada it is taking extra safety precautions. That opinion comes from Peter Brown, senior multimedia editor for VIA Satellite magazine.
Maybe, Peter. Personally I'd put greater weight on the idea that the Sage is merely filling in for one of the existing range instrumentation vessels. The time scales just don't fit; Sage was apparently already offshore Maine for the original launch before Canadian objections. It would have taken a lot longer to get the Sage fitted out and sailing north than the timescale allows, unless the Sage was already equipped. It looks to me like the ship merely docked in Portland waiting for the launch.
An extra telemetry vessel doesn't really send a message to the Canadian government especially since the whole thing is being handled in great secrecy. If you want to send a message to a friendly government, you pick up the phone.
There's no point in being cryptic.
Next thing you'll tell me there was ever a chance of the rocket ever coming in sight of the offshore oil fields let alone hit anything.