Encyclopedia Astronautica

American military strategic defense satellite. One launch, 1996.04.24.

The MSX Midcourse Space eXperiment observatory was a BMDO sponsored mission designed to demonstrate a variety of multispectral imaging technologies to identify and track ballistic missiles during flight. In addition, it performed scientific investigations of the composition and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere by observing ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide and methane.

The spacecraft was 3-axis stabilized to 0.01 deg using reaction wheels with knowledge to 9 rad (post-processed). 108 Gbits data storage were available. Communiations were via steerable X-band antennas with 2 kbps uplink and downlink up to 25 Mbps. Dual solar arrays (single-axis articulation) provided 1200 W BOL and recharged NiH2 batteries. The instruments consisted of 11 optical sensors making observations at a wide range of infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths from 110 nm to 28 m. Primary instruments were the SPIRIT III (Space Infrared Imaging Telescope), UVISI (Ultraviolet and Visible Imagers and Spectrographic Imagers), SBV (Space-Based Visible instrument), and OSDP (On-board Signal and Data Processor). Reference objects (2 cm spheres) were to be deployed from MSX for observation by the sensors.

The initial project started 1988 with an estimated cost of $ 800 million. This was reduced to $ 350 million. Spacecraft cost was estimated at $325M. Utah State University built SPIRIT III, Hughes the OSDP.

AKA: Midcourse Space Experiment.
Gross mass: 2,700 kg (5,900 lb).
Height: 5.10 m (16.70 ft).
First Launch: 1996.04.24.
Number: 1 .

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...

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...
  • Delta 2 7000 American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta 7000 series used GEM-40 strap-ons with the Extra Extended Long Tank core, further upgraded with the RS-27A engine. More...
  • Delta 7920-X Three stage vehicle consisting of 9 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K with 3.05 m (10 foot) diameter fairing More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • APL American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD, Laurel, Maryland, USA. More...
  • BMDO American agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Ballistic Missile Defence Organization (formerly SDIO), USA. 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.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • 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 SLC2W Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...

MSX Chronology

1996 April 24 - . 12:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC2W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7920-X. LV Configuration: Delta 7920-10 D235.
  • MSX - . Mass: 2,700 kg (5,900 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO. Class: Military. Type: Strategic defense satellite. Spacecraft: MSX. USAF Sat Cat: 23851 . COSPAR: 1996-024A. Apogee: 907 km (563 mi). Perigee: 897 km (557 mi). Inclination: 99.4000 deg. Period: 103.10 min. Summary: LEO. Midcourse Space eXperiment; missile detection technology tests; also used for auroral and atmospheric studies .

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