Encyclopedia Astronautica
Midas



midaw37s.jpg
Midas W37 Sensor
American military early warning satellite. 18 launches, 1960.02.26 (Midas 1) to 1966.10.05 (Midas 12). Part of a then-secret USAF program known as WS-117L, the MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System) program began in November 1958.

It was terminated in the summer of 1966 after less than a dozen MIDAS satellites were put into orbit. MIDAS was intended to provide timely warning of an attack upon the United States by detecting and tracking the hot exhaust gases of enemy missiles at launch and during boost phase. But the sensor and processing technology of the time, and the constellation architecture, were not up to the task.

In the late 1950s, the advent of a Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile threat convinced the U.S. Air Force of the urgent need for a constellation of satellites that would provide timely warning of an imminent missile attack. MIDAS was at best a qualified success -- early problems included mistaking sunlight reflected from clouds as an enemy missile launch. The earliest satellites carried the Aerojet W-17, the first sensor to be deployed on operational MIDAS satellites. A later and more capable version, the Aerojet W-37 infrared early warning sensor, became the first space-based sensor to successfully detect a missile launched from Earth. This was the first sensor to be deployed on operational MIDAS satellites.

In the mid-1960s, MIDAS was supplanted by the USAF's Program 461 and subsequently by that service's highly successful deep space Defense Support Program early warning satellite system.

AKA: Missile Defense Alarm System.
Gross mass: 1,840 kg (4,050 lb).
First Launch: 1960.02.26.
Last Launch: 1966.10.05.
Number: 18 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • 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...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • 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...
  • Atlas Agena A American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas D + 1 x Agena A upper stage. Agena originally called 'Hustler', based on engine for cancelled rocket-propelled nuclear warhead pod for B-58 Hustler bomber. More...
  • Thor Agena B American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-21 + 1 x Agena B More...
  • Atlas Agena B American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas D with improved, enlarged Agena upper stage. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-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.
  • Day, Dwayne, "Response to Letter to the Editor", Spaceflight, 1995, Volume 37, page 282.
  • McDowell, Jonathon, "US Reconnaissance Satellite Programs Part 2", Quest, 1995, Volume 4, Issue 4, page 49.
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 1998.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.

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...
  • Cape Canaveral LC14 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. After its final Atlas missile launch, Complex 14 was converted into an Atlas /Agena launch complex, and later turned over to NASA. Complex 14 supported 32 Atlas and Atlas/Agena missions, including four manned Mercury missions and seven unmanned Gemini target vehicle launches. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967. Complex 14 and the gantry on Complex 13 were declared national historic landmarks in April 1984. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC1E Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1967. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC3E Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas test facility, originally designated PALC1-2, then LC1-2, and finally upgraded to a Space Launch Facility in 1966. More...

Midas Chronology


1960 February 26 - . 17:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena A 29D / Agena A 1008. FAILURE: Second stage failed to separate.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Midas 1 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1008. Mass: 2,025 kg (4,464 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1960-02-26 . COSPAR: F600226A. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System..

1960 May 24 - . 17:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena A 45D / Agena A 1007.
  • Midas 2 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1007. Mass: 2,300 kg (5,000 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1974-02-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 43 . COSPAR: 1960-Zeta-1. Apogee: 494 km (306 mi). Perigee: 473 km (293 mi). Inclination: 33.0000 deg. Period: 94.30 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Test launch with W-17 sensor..

1960 December 20 - . 20:32 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC1E. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Agena B. LV Configuration: Thor Agena B 258 / Agena B 1101.
  • Discoverer 19 - . Payload: Midas test payload. Mass: 1,060 kg (2,330 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1961-01-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 68 . COSPAR: 1960-Tau-1. Apogee: 359 km (223 mi). Perigee: 186 km (115 mi). Inclination: 83.4000 deg. Period: 90.00 min. Summary: Tested IR sensors for Midas program; did not carry camera or film capsule. .

1961 February 18 - . 22:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC1E. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Agena B. LV Configuration: Thor Agena B 261 / Agena B 1102.
  • Discoverer 21 - . Payload: Midas test payload. Mass: 1,110 kg (2,440 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1962-04-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 84 . COSPAR: 1961-Zeta-1. Apogee: 458 km (284 mi). Perigee: 212 km (131 mi). Inclination: 80.6000 deg. Period: 91.30 min. Summary: Tested IR sensors for Midas program; did not carry camera or film capsule..

1961 July 12 - . 15:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 97D / Agena B 1201.
  • Midas 3 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1201. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 163 . COSPAR: 1961-Sigma-1. Apogee: 3,540 km (2,190 mi). Perigee: 3,343 km (2,077 mi). Inclination: 91.2000 deg. Period: 161.40 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System..

1961 October 21 - . 13:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 105D.
  • Midas 4 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1202. Mass: 1,800 kg (3,900 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 192 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Delta-1. Apogee: 3,763 km (2,338 mi). Perigee: 3,482 km (2,163 mi). Inclination: 95.9000 deg. Period: 165.90 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Deployed subsatellites..

1962 April 9 - . 15:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 110D.
  • Midas 5 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1203. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 271 . COSPAR: 1962-Kappa-1. Apogee: 3,405 km (2,115 mi). Perigee: 2,784 km (1,729 mi). Inclination: 86.7000 deg. Period: 152.90 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System..

1962 December 17 - . 20:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 131D / Agena B 1205. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: U.
  • Midas 6 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1205. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1962-12-17 . COSPAR: F621217A. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Carried ERS-3, ERS-4 subsatellites..
  • TRS 4 - . Payload: ERS 4. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: Midas. COSPAR: F621217C.
  • TRS 3 - . Payload: ERS 3. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: Midas. COSPAR: F621217B.

1963 May 9 - . 20:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 119D / Agena B S01 1206.
  • Midas 7 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1206. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 574 . COSPAR: 1963-014A. Apogee: 3,680 km (2,280 mi). Perigee: 3,609 km (2,242 mi). Inclination: 87.3000 deg. Period: 166.40 min. Summary: MIDAS 7 was the first operational MIDAS mission and the first equipped with the W-37 sensor. During its six weeks of operation, MIDAS 7 recorded nine US ICBM launches, including the first missile launch ever detected from space..

1963 June 12 - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 139D / Agena B SPS 1204. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: U.
  • Midas 8 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1204. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1963-06-12 . COSPAR: F630613A. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Carried ERS-7, ERS-8 subsatellites..
  • TRS 7 - . Payload: ERS 7. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: Midas. COSPAR: F630613B.
  • TRS 8 - . Payload: ERS 8. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: Midas. COSPAR: F630613C.

1963 July 19 - . 03:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 75D / Agena B S01 1207.
  • Midas 9 - . Payload: Midas / Agena TV 1207. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 622 . COSPAR: 1963-030A. Apogee: 3,726 km (2,315 mi). Perigee: 3,676 km (2,284 mi). Inclination: 88.4000 deg. Period: 167.90 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Did not eject ERS 10 subsatellite..

1966 June 9 - . 20:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena D SLV-3. LV Configuration: SLV-3 Agena D 7201 / Agena D 1351.
  • Midas 10 - . Payload: Midas RTS 1 / Agena TV 1351 / Agena D 1351 / OPS 1. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. Decay Date: 1966-12-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 2200 . COSPAR: 1966-051A. Apogee: 3,678 km (2,285 mi). Perigee: 154 km (95 mi). Inclination: 90.0000 deg. Period: 125.20 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System. Left in transfer orbit..

1966 August 19 - . 19:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena D SLV-3. LV Configuration: SLV-3 Agena D 7202 / Agena D 1352.
  • Midas 11 - . Payload: Midas RTS 2 / Agena TV 1352 / Agena D / OPS 0856. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 2403 . COSPAR: 1966-077A. Apogee: 3,708 km (2,304 mi). Perigee: 3,658 km (2,272 mi). Inclination: 89.7000 deg. Period: 167.40 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System..

1966 October 5 - . 22:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena D SLV-3. LV Configuration: SLV-3 Agena D 7203 / Agena D 1353.
  • Midas 12 - . Payload: Midas RTS 3 / Agena TV 1353 / Agena D / OPS 1920. Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Military. Type: Early warning satellite. Spacecraft: Midas. USAF Sat Cat: 2481 . COSPAR: 1966-089A. Apogee: 3,724 km (2,313 mi). Perigee: 3,657 km (2,272 mi). Inclination: 89.8000 deg. Period: 167.60 min. Summary: Missile Defense Alarm System..

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