Encyclopedia Astronautica
GRAB



zgrab.jpg
Grab
American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 9 launches, 1960.04.13 (Dummy subsatellite) to 1965.03.09 (Solrad 7B). GRAB, the first US electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite, was not declassified until June 1998.

The project was originally called "Tattletale," then renamed GRAB. Since the true nature of the satellite was supposed to not be apparent to the Russians, this was revised to GREB (the acronym Galactic Radiation Experimental Background was retroactively dreamed up to explain the name). To further muddy the waters the satellites were launched under the title SOLRAD (the cover purpose being to study solar radiation).

Work on GRAB began around the time of the first successful Vanguard launch. Reid Meyo of the Naval Research Laboratory Countermeasures Branch had developed an electronic intelligence antenna for submarine periscopes. At the same time NRL was seeking quick military exploitation of the Vanguard satellite that it had developed. Reid was sitting in a hotel restaurant in Pennsylvania one night and got the idea that they could simply put his periscope antenna in orbit aboard a Vanguard. The original calculations, in the best tradition of aerospace engineering, were done on the restaurant placemat.

GRAB's receivers were used to catalogue the waveforms and pulse repetition frequencies of Soviet air defense radars. GRABs were launched not by Vanguard rockets but as piggy-back or cluster payloads with other satellites. One inert dummy was used to prove the multiple satellite launching technique. Of five operational GRAB satellites, only two reached orbit and operated successfully. GRAB data was given by NRL to the Strategic Air Command and the National Security Agency (which may indicate communications were also intercepted).

Operational ELINT satellites were taken over by the NRO, and remain classified.

Electric System: 0.006 average kW.

AKA: Solrad; Greb; Tattletale.
Gross mass: 18 kg (39 lb).
Height: 0.51 m (1.67 ft).
First Launch: 1960.04.13.
Last Launch: 1965.03.09.
Number: 9 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...
  • Scout Solid-fuel, light payload, lower-cost launch vehicle developed by the Air Force and NASA in the late 1950's and used in a variety of configurations over thirty years. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Wallops Island, and from Italy's equatorial San Marco platform off Kenya. Italy studied but did not develop subsequent upgraded versions. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Thor Able-Star American orbital launch vehicle. As Thor Able but with enlarged Ablestar second stage with 2 1/2 x greater burn time. More...
  • Scout American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Solid-fuel, light payload, lower-cost launch vehicle developed by the Air Force and NASA in the late 1950's and used in a variety of configurations over thirty years. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Wallops Island, and from Italy's equatorial San Marco platform off Kenya. Italy studied but did not develop subsequent upgraded versions. More...
  • Scout X-2 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 1D + 1 x Castor + 1 x Antares 2 + 1 x Altair More...
  • Thor Agena D American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-21 + 1 x Agena D More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NRL American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • 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.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Day, Dwayne Allen, "re: Brief overview of SOLRAD/GREB project", sci.space.history Newsgroup, posting, 1998-06-23.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC1E Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1967. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC2E Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC5 Scout launch complex. Dedicated Scout launch pad, used during the life of that vehicle from 1962 to 1994. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17B Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Upgraded over the decades for use with Thor, Delta, Delta II, and Delta III launch vehicles, it remained in use for over half a century. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC2W Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...

GRAB Chronology


1960 April 13 - . 12:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able-Star. LV Configuration: Thor Ablestar 257 AB002?.
  • Dummy subsatellite - . Payload: GRAB dummy. Mass: 18 kg (39 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. Decay Date: 1960-07-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 33 . COSPAR: 1960-Gamma-3. Apogee: 615 km (382 mi). Perigee: 285 km (177 mi). Inclination: 51.3000 deg. Period: 93.60 min.

1960 June 22 - . 05:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able-Star. LV Configuration: Thor Ablestar 281 AB003?.
  • Solrad 1 - . Payload: GRAB 1. Mass: 19 kg (41 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. USAF Sat Cat: 46 . COSPAR: 1960-Eta-2. Apogee: 935 km (580 mi). Perigee: 596 km (370 mi). Inclination: 66.7000 deg. Period: 100.20 min. Summary: Solar radiation data. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1960 November 30 - . 19:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able-Star. LV Configuration: Thor Ablestar 283 AB006. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Solrad 2 - . Payload: GRAB 2. Mass: 18 kg (39 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. COSPAR: F601130B.

1961 June 29 - . 04:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able-Star. LV Configuration: Thor Ablestar 315 AB008.
  • Solrad 3 - . Payload: GRAB 3. Mass: 18 kg (39 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. COSPAR: 1961-Omicron-xx.

1962 January 24 - . 09:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able-Star. LV Configuration: Thor Ablestar 311 AB010. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Solrad 4 - . Payload: GRAB 4. Mass: 18 kg (39 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. COSPAR: F620124B.

1962 April 26 - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC5. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout X-2. LV Configuration: Scout X-2 S111. FAILURE: Failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Solrad 4B - . Payload: GRAB 4B. Mass: 91 kg (200 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. Decay Date: 1962-04-26 . COSPAR: F620426A. Summary: Solar radiation monitor..

1963 June 15 - . 14:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC2E. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Agena D. LV Configuration: Thor Agena D 378 / Agena D 2353.
  • Solrad 6A - . Mass: 39 kg (85 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. Decay Date: 1963-08-01 . USAF Sat Cat: 599 . COSPAR: 1963-021C. Apogee: 869 km (539 mi). Perigee: 170 km (100 mi). Inclination: 69.9000 deg. Period: 95.10 min. Summary: Solar radiation data. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). .

1964 January 11 - . 20:07 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC1E. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Agena D SLV-2. LV Configuration: Thor SLV-2 Agena D 390 / Agena D 2354.
  • Solrad 7A; NRL Solar Rad - . Payload: GRAB 5. Mass: 45 kg (99 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. USAF Sat Cat: 730 . COSPAR: 1964-001D. Apogee: 920 km (570 mi). Perigee: 902 km (560 mi). Inclination: 69.9000 deg. Period: 103.20 min. Summary: Solar radiation data. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). .

1965 March 9 - . 18:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC2W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Agena D SLV-2. LV Configuration: Thor SLV-2 Agena D 419 / Agena D SS-01A 2701.
  • Solrad 7B - . Payload: GRAB 6. Mass: 47 kg (103 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: GRAB. USAF Sat Cat: 1291 . COSPAR: 1965-016D. Apogee: 928 km (576 mi). Perigee: 901 km (559 mi). Inclination: 70.1000 deg. Period: 103.30 min. Summary: Solar radiation monitoring. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). .

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