Encyclopedia Astronautica

American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1996.08.21. FAST was designed to observe and measure rapidly varying electric and magnetic fields and the flow of electrons and ions above the aurora.

FAST would correlate measurements of electrical and magnetic fields from other sensors and simultaneously correlate these forces with their effects on electrons and ions at altitudes of 350 to 4200 km. These observations would be complemented by data from other spacecraft at higher altitudes, which would be observing fields and particles and photographing the aurora from above, thus placing FAST observations in global context. At the same time, auroral observatories and geomagnetic stations on the ground would provide measurements on how the energetic processes FAST observes affect the Earth. Although prepared for mid-1994 launch date, FAST was placed into storage until a series of problems with the Pegasus launch vehicle could be corrected. The vehicle was finally placed into orbit on 21 August 1996.

The spacecraft was spin stabilized (12 rpm), keeping the spin axis aligned with orbit-normal, and powered by body mounted GaAs solar cells. It has an aluminum structure and the control computer used dual 80C85 rad hard processors. An S-Band transponder was used for command and telemetry. Passive thermal control.

Payloads included:

  • Electric Field Experiment, used 3 orthogonal boom pairs to measure plasma density and electron temperature.
  • Magnetic Field Experiment, had 2 magnetometers 180 deg apart deployed on graphite booms.
  • Time-of-Flight Energy Angle Mass Spectrograph (TEAMS), a mass-resolving spectrometer designed to measure 3-dimension distribution functions of major ion species.
  • Sixteen Electrostatic Analyzers (ESA) were used for electron and ion measurements from 3 eV to 30 KeV.

Total mission cost was $ 60 million mission: $ 27 million for the satellite + $ 18 million for the instruments + $ 15 million for the launch.

AKA: Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer.
Height: 1.80 m (5.90 ft).
First Launch: 1996.08.21.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Pegasus Privately-funded, air-launched winged light satellite launcher. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Pegasus American air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Privately-funded, air-launched winged light satellite launcher. More...
  • Pegasus XL American air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Uprated version of Pegasus air-launched winged light satellite launcher. 4 stage vehicle consisting of 1 x L-1011 + 1 x Pegasus XL stage 1 + 1 x Orion 50XL + 1 x Orion 38. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Small Explorer A series of relatively low-cost satellites launched by NASA for solar and astronomical studies. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Report (Internet Newsletter), Harvard University, Weekly, 1989 to Present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Point Arguello WADZ Air-launched rocket drop zone known to have been used for 28 launches from 1990 to 2007, reaching up to 4539 kilometers altitude. More...

FAST Chronology

1996 August 21 - . 09:47 GMT - . Launch Site: Point Arguello WADZ. Launch Pad: 36.0 N x 123.0 W. Launch Platform: L-1011. LV Family: Pegasus. Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL. LV Configuration: Pegasus XL F13.
  • FAST - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: Small Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: FAST. USAF Sat Cat: 24285 . COSPAR: 1996-049A. Apogee: 4,163 km (2,586 mi). Perigee: 353 km (219 mi). Inclination: 83.0000 deg. Period: 132.70 min. Summary: Second Small Explorer mission..

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