- TIROS-1, the first Television and Infra-Red Observation Satellite jointly developed by
NASA and the US Defence Department, was launched on the 1st April 1960 by a Thor Delta
from Cape Canaveral into a 692x740km 48 degree inclined orbit. The spacecraft main aim was
to test out horizon and sun-sensors for attitude determination. The 122kg satellite was
built from Aluminium alloy, cylindrical with 18 sides, measuring 1070mm in diameter and
550mm high, covered in solar panels on all sides and the top in order to charge a NiCd
battery. The spacecraft was spin stabilised and inertial pointing A canted turnstile
antenna system was employed for transmissions, with four whip antennas at the base of the
spacecraft, and a single 457mm whip for command at the top side. Three spin up solid
propellant engines. Two cameras (f1.5 and f 1.8) were carried facing through the sides,
which would take 16 pictures per orbit each 32 to 128 seconds apart. each camera was
connected to an on-board tape recorders, which were able to store up to 48 pictures out of
range of the groundstations. The satellite was used for meteorological and military
applications. The batteries lasted for only 78 days, and during this time it returned
22,952 images. More...
- TIROS-2 was launched on the 23rd November 1960 on a Thor Delta from Cape Canaveral
into a 48 degree orbit, the spacecraft weighed 127kg and was similar to TIROS-1.
The spacecraft was to test out new attitude control techniques using magnetic control. It
carried an experimental horizon sensor and infra red detectors, and lasted for 376 days.
- [TIROS pages]
- TIROS-3 was launched on the 12th July 1961 on a Thor Delta from Cape Canaveral into a 48
degree orbit, the spacecraft weighed 129kg and was similar to TIROS-1. The spacecraft was
to measure reflected Infra Red radiation. The spacecraft carried two scanning, and one
non-scanning radiometer. Two cameras were flown including an Infra Red experimental
system. One of the cameras failed 12 days into the mission, but the spacecraft lasted a
total of 230 days. More...
- TIROS-4 was launched on the 8th February 1962 on a Thor Delta into a 48 degree orbit,
the spacecraft weighed 129kg and was similar to TIROS-1.A new lens system was implemented
in order to improve resolution and image quality. Electronic timers were included for
controlling the infra red sensors, and magnetic control system. The spacecraft lasted a
total of 161 days. More...
- TIROS-5 was launched on the 19th June 1962 on a Thor Delta into a 58 degree orbit, which
was elliptical due to a launcher guidance problem. The spacecraft weighed 129kg and was
similar to TIROS-1. A wide (Elgeet) and narrow angle (Tegea) lens were flown. An IR horizon
scanner failed to operate. A total of 63 NiCd cells were employed. Spin up jets and despin
weights were included in order to increase the mission lifetime. Three radiation sensors
had to be disconnected when they failed ground tests just prior to launch. The spacecraft
lasted a total of 321 days. More...
- TIROS-6 was launched on the 18th September 1962 on a Thor Delta, the spacecraft weighed
127.6kg and was similar to TIROS-5, but without the Infrared system. The three radiation
detectors not flown on TIROS-5 were not ready for this launch. The spacecraft lasted a
total of 389 days. More...
- Alouette-1 1962
- Alouette was Canada's first satellite, and was launched on the 29th September 1962 on a
Thor Agena-B launcher from Vandenberg AFB. It was placed into a 997 x 1026km orbit
inclined at 80 degrees. It was the first satellite to return useful data on the
ionosphere, and operated for 6 years. The satellite weighed 144.7kg.
- TIROS-7 was launched on the 19th June 1963 on a Thor Delta, the spacecraft weighed
134.5kg and was similar to TIROS-5 including the infrared system. A five-channel medium
resolution scanning radiometer and low resolution metallic resistance thermometers were
flown. The cameras were equipped with wide angle Elgeet lenses. Furthermore electron
density and temperature probes were flown and were similar to those on explorer-17. The
spacecraft lasted a total of 1809 days. More...
- A US Navy weather satellite launched on the 28th August 1963 on a Thor Agena B from
VAFB, into a 422x932km (1100km circular intended) orbit inclined at 98 degrees. The
satellite failed after 1 month of operations due to a failure in the solar array. The
spacecraft returned 27,000 meteorological and infra red images. The spacecraft weighed
376kg, and was butterfly shaped with a 3m central cylindrical body with two large 200W
deployable solar panels measuring 2.4 by 0.9m with a span of 3.4m. The power system was
supplemented by two SNAP-19 nuclear power generators. Attitude stabilisation was computer
controlled to within 1 degree employing gas jets and reaction wheels. Attitude
determination was performed using horizon sensors for pitch and roll, and a gyroscope for
- TIROS-8 was launched on the 21st December 1963 on a Delta DSV-3B, the spacecraft weighed
120kg and was similar to earlier ones in the series. The spacecraft lasted a total of 1287
- The 9th satellite in Television and Infra-Red Observation Satellite series, jointly
developed by NASA and the US Defence Department, was launched on A Delta-DSV-3B from
Cape Canaveral on the 22nd January 1965 into a 700x2578km orbit (644km circular
sun-synchronous intended). The satellite weighed 138kg, and was similar in shape to
TIROS-1. Despite the unplanned orbit, the satellite managed to produce the first global
map of cloud cover using 450 returned images. The spacecraft lasted 1238 days.
- The 10th satellite in Television and Infra-Red Observation Satellite series, jointly
developed by NASA and the US Defence Department, was launched on the 2nd July 1965 into a
sun-synchronous orbit . The satellite weighed 138kg, and was similar in shape to TIROS-1.
The spacecraft returned more than 500,000 images when it was shut down after 730 days on
the 3rd July 1967.
- The 145kg Canadian Alouette-2 was launched on the 29th November 1965 into a 505x2987km
orbit inclined at 79.82 degrees, and was the second of the joint Canadian-NASA
International Satellites for Ionospheric Studies (ISIS) program.
- Following on from the TIROS series of satellites, and under the Environmental Science
Services Administration, ESSA-1 (initially named TOS for TIROS Operational System)
was launched on a DELTA on the 3rd February 1966 into a 702x845km orbit. It was similar to
TIROS in shape, and weighed 154kg ESSA-1 carried the same equipment as the TIROS
satellites. The spacecraft lasted 861 days.
- ESSA-2 was launched on a DELTA on the 28th February 1966. The satellite weighed 131kg
and was similar in shape to the TIROS spacecraft. The spacecraft carried more advanced
Automatic Picture Transmission cameras. These offered 3000km swaths with 3km ground
sampling distance at nadir, taking pictures every 352 seconds. The spacecraft lasted 1692
- The second in a series of US Navy weather satellites was launched on the 15th May 1966
on a TAT-Agena B from VAFB, into a 1100x1181km orbit inclined at 100 degrees. The
satellite was similar in shape to Nimbus-1, but weighing 413kg. Although designed for 6
months of operation, the satellite survived for 33 months until the17th January 1969. The
spacecraft provided meteorological and infra-red images, and carried a 5 spectral band
radiometer in order to measure water vapour, CO2 and ozone content in the atmosphere.
- ESSA-3 (TOS-A)
- ESSA-3 was launched on a DELTA on the 2nd October 1966. The satellite weighed 145kg and
was similar in shape to ESSA-1.The spacecraft carried an Advanced Videocon Camera Systems
payload. The spacecraft lasted 738days.
- ATS-1 was launched on the 7th December 1966 on an Atlas Agena D from Cape Canaveral,
into Geostationary orbit over the pacific ocean. The 352kg spacecraft measured 1340mm in
height by 1420mm in diameter. Its solar panels included 23,870 cells. The spacecraft was
still operational in 1982. It provided many direct satellite TV broadcasts between
Australia, Japan and the US.
- Launched on the 14th December 1966 on an Thrust Augmented Delta from Cape Canaveral, the
426kg Bios-1 was placed into a 307x316km orbit inclined at 33.5 degrees. Due to a retro
rocket thruster failure, the recovery module carrying plants and organisms was not
recovered as planned. Finally the spacecraft re-entered on the 15th February 1967. The
spacecraft carried 13 experiments and a Strontium 85 radiation source in order to test
weightless plant and animal samples to weightlessness and radiation. The specimens were
photographed every 10 minutes, with the film to be recovered in the re-entry pod.
- ESSA-4 (TOS-B)
- ESSA-4 was launched on a DELTA on the 26th January 1967. The satellite weighed 131kg and
was similar in shape to ESSA-1. The spacecraft carried APT equipment, and lasted 465 days.
- ATS-2 was launched on the 6th April 1967 on an Atlas Agena D from Cape Canaveral. The
370kg spacecraft was designed to be gravity gradient stabilised in a 11,000km 28degree
inclined orbit, but a launcher failure left the spacecraft in a 185x11,177km orbit. As a
result the spacecraft was left tumbling and only limited data could be gathered from the
experiments. The spacecraft re-entered on the 2nd September 1969.
- ESSA-5 (TOS-C)
- ESSA-5 was launched on a DELTA on the 20th April 1967. The satellite weighed 145kg and
was similar in shape to ESSA-1.The spacecraft carried AVCS equipment, and lasted 1034
- San Marco-2 ,
- San Marco-2, an Italian mini-satellite was launched on the 26th April 1967 on Scout
mission #52 from the San Marco platform off the Kenyan coast in the Indian ocean, into a
219x741km orbit inclined at 3 degrees, making it the first equatorial launch. The 129kg
satellite measured atmospheric density in the high atmosphere using a set of concentric
speres joined by three flexible arms, until it re-entered on the 14th October 1967.
- ATS-3 was launched on the 6th November 1967 on an Atlas Agena D from Cape Canaveral,
into Geostationary orbit over the pacific ocean. The 365kg spacecraft (dry mass) was
placed over the Atlantic, and was still operational in 1982. The spacecraft carried a
color camera and communication experiments. It also provided support for the Apollo moon
- ESSA-6 (TOS-D)
- ESSA-6 was launched on a DELTA on the 10th November 1967. The satellite weighed 131kg
and was similar in shape to ESSA-1. The spacecraft carried APT equipment, and lasted 763
- An 104.5kg mini-satellite launched into a highly elliptical 424 x 223428 km orbit, with
an inclination of 28.28 degrees, and had a period of 4d 16h 19min. It was built by
Junkers-Werke of Munich, a subsidiary of Messerschmitt AG, under contract to ESRO (ESA's
predecessor). It was launched on the 5th December 1968 from the Eastern Test Range,
Florida on a Thor Delta DSV3-E launcher, and was to investigate interplanetary magnetic
fields and solar particles using 7 on-board experiments. The spacecraft is cylindrically
shaped, 1300mm diameter and 750mm height. It was re-entered the atmosphere 28th October
- ATS-4 was launched on the 10th August 1968 on an Atlas Centaur from Cape Canaveral.. The
392kg spacecraft was designed to be gravity gradient stabilised, but a launch failure left
it in a 217x722km orbit. Little data was returned before it re-entered on the 10th
- ESSA-7 (TOS-E)
- ESSA-7 was launched on a DELTA on the 16th August 1968. The satellite weighed 145kg and
was similar in shape to ESSA-1.The spacecraft carried AVCS equipment, and lasted 576 days.
- ESSA-8 (TOS-F)
- ESSA-8 was launched on a DELTA on the 15th February 1969. The satellite weighed 131kg
and was similar in shape to ESSA-1.The spacecraft carried APT equipment, and lasted 2644
- ESSA-9 (TOS-G)
- ESSA-9 was launched on a DELTA on the 26th February 1969 into a 1427x1508km orbit . The
satellite weighed 145kg and was similar in shape to ESSA-1.The spacecraft carried AVCS
equipment, and lasted 1726 days.
- ISIS 1 1969-09A
- The 241kg ISIS-1 was placed into a 578 x 3526km orbit inclined at 88 deg, by a Thor
Delta (TAID) from Vandenberg AFB on the 30th January 1969. It carried eight Canadian and
four US experiments in order to investigate daily and seasonal variations in the electron
density in the upper atmosphere. It also studied radio and cosmic noise emissions and
measured energetic particles interaction with the ionosphere.
- ATS-4 was launched on the 12th August 1969 on an Atlas Centaur from Cape Canaveral, into
Geostationary orbit. The 433kg spacecraft was designed to be gravity gradient stabilised.
Shortly after separation the spacecraft started to nutate. This required the hydrazine
jets to be fired 15 times more often than planned, and left the spacecraft the right way
up, but spinning with the wrong sense. This in turn did not permit the gravity gradient
booms to be deployed. As a result only 9 out of the 14 experiments were operated. The
spacecraft however was still operational et the end of 1976. The spacecraft carried mainly
communications experiments. An auroral particle experiment was particularly successful.
- Skynet 1
- The British military satellite, Skynet 1, was launched on the 21st November 1969 on a
Delta launcher from Cape Kennedy, and placed into a Geostationary orbit. It was designed
to provide secure voice, telegraph and fax links between UK military headquarters and
ships and bases in the Middle and far East. The 422kg satellite was cylindrical in shape
810mm high and 1370mm in diameter. It was spin stabilised with a despun antenna platform.
It is believed to have operated for less than a year