Encyclopedia Astronautica
Samos


American military surveillance satellite. 17 launches, 1960.10.11 (Samos 1) to 1962.11.11 (Samos 11). First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; program still partially classified, evidently due to embarrassment.

Samos satellites carried one of four payloads:

  • E-1 frame readout camera with 1.83 m focal length, 30 m ground resolution, and 161 km x 161 km frame coverage;
  • E-2 frame readout camera with 0.91 m focal length, 6 m ground resolution, and 27 km x 27 km frame coverage;
  • E-5 recoverable panoramic camera with 1.67 m focal length, 1.5 m ground resolution, and 98 km swath length;
  • E-6 recoverable panoramic camera with 0.7 m focal length, 2.4 m ground resolution, and 280 km swath width.
None of the satellite versions worked particularly well, in contrast to the success the CIA was having at the same time with its Corona project. SAMOS was quietly wound up without ever having produced any significant results.

Gross mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb).
First Launch: 1960.10.11.
Last Launch: 1962.11.11.
Number: 17 .

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...

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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 SLC3W Delta, Atlas launch complex. First designated LC1-1 and used to launch Atlas Agena B with Samos payloads. After Samos cancellation, rebuilt in 1963 to support launch of KH-4 Corona spysats atop Thor-Agena. Refurbished in 1973 to accomodate surplus Atlas ICBM's in space launch role. 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...

Samos Chronology


1960 October 11 - . 20:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena A 57D / Agena A 2101. FAILURE: Second stage failure.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Samos 1 - . Payload: Samos E-1 no. 1. Mass: 1,845 kg (4,067 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1960-10-11 . COSPAR: F601011A. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite..

1961 January 31 - . 20:21 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena A 70D / Agena A 2102.
  • Samos 2 - . Payload: Samos E-1 no. 2. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1973-10-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 70 . COSPAR: 1961-Alpha-1. Apogee: 557 km (346 mi). Perigee: 474 km (294 mi). Inclination: 97.4000 deg. Period: 95.00 min. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; micrometeoroid impact data. Poor results..

1961 September 9 - . 19:28 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 106D / Agena B 2120. FAILURE: Exploded on launch pad.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Samos 3 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 1. Mass: 1,890 kg (4,160 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1961-09-09 . COSPAR: F610909A. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images..

1961 November 22 - . 20:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 108D / Agena B 2202. FAILURE: Failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Samos 4 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 1. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1961-11-22 . COSPAR: F611122A. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi). Summary: First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite..

1961 December 22 - . 19:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 114D / Agena B 2203.
  • Samos 5 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 2. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-01-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 218 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Lambda-2. Apogee: 310 km (190 mi). Perigee: 187 km (116 mi). Inclination: 89.6000 deg. Period: 89.40 min. First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite. Reached orbit but failed to deorbit and be recovered. In his memoirs Sergei Khrushchev recounts recovery of what he believed to be a recoverable Samos, except the date given is the winter before tests of this configuration actually started. He relates that a second American capsule was recovered in the spring of 1961. It was equipped with a 30 cm lens and 100ís of metres of 10 cm wide film. Also recovered were a pear-shaped module made of fibreglass, and an inertial orientation system powered by electric motors. It may have been a SAMOS prototype. The capsule was found by tractor drivers, who disassembled it and used the film to wrap around the frame of their outhouse to provide some privacy in the treeless area. Unfortunately this ruined the film, preventing the Russians from developing it and discovering the technical capabilities of the system.

1962 March 7 - . 22:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 112D / Agena B 2204.
  • Samos 6 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 3. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1963-06-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 259 . COSPAR: 1962-Eta-3. Apogee: 686 km (426 mi). Perigee: 236 km (146 mi). Inclination: 90.9000 deg. Period: 93.90 min. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite. Failed to return camera and film. Samos film return project cancelled; remaining 4 cameras placed in warehouse and later used on KH-6 Lanyard..

1962 April 26 - . 18:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 118D / Agena B SPS 2401.
  • Samos 7 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 1 / Agena B 2401. Mass: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-04-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 286 . COSPAR: 1962-Pi-1. Summary: Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2401 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-Pi-xx.

1962 June 17 - . 18:14 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 115D / Agena B SPS 2402.
  • Samos 8 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 2 / Agena B 2402. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-06-18 . USAF Sat Cat: 307 . COSPAR: 1962-Psi-1. Apogee: 198 km (123 mi). Perigee: 198 km (123 mi). Inclination: 96.2000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2402 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-Psi-xx.

1962 July 18 - . 20:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 120D.
  • Samos 9 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 3 / Agena B 2403. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-07-25 . USAF Sat Cat: 342 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Zeta-1. Apogee: 234 km (145 mi). Perigee: 184 km (114 mi). Inclination: 96.0000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. Summary: First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2403 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-07-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 343 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Zeta-2. Apogee: 215 km (133 mi). Perigee: 163 km (101 mi). Inclination: 96.1000 deg. Period: 88.30 min.

1962 August 5 - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 124D / Agena B SPS 2404.
  • Samos 10 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 2 / Agena B 2404. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-08-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 361 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-2. Apogee: 203 km (126 mi). Perigee: 201 km (124 mi). Inclination: 96.2000 deg. Period: 88.50 min. Summary: Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2404 - . Payload: AFP-201 PVP 854. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-08-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 361 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-1. Apogee: 203 km (126 mi). Perigee: 203 km (126 mi). Inclination: 96.3000 deg. Period: 88.50 min.
  • FTV 2404 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-xx.

1962 November 11 - . 20:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 128D / Agena B SPS 2405.
  • Samos 11 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 3 / TRS 1 / Agena B 2405. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-11-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 455 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Pi-1. Apogee: 292 km (181 mi). Perigee: 128 km (79 mi). Inclination: 96.0000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Summary: Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results. SAMOS project cancelled..
  • FTV 2405 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-B-Pi-xx.

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