Encyclopedia Astronautica
Surveillance orbit


Category of spacecraft.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • Zenit Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1956. Work began on the original Zenit spy satellite on 30 January 1956. After the success of Sputnik Sergei Korolev advocated that manned spaceflight should have first priority. More...
  • KH-1 American military surveillance satellite. 22 launches, 1959.01.21 (Thor Agena test) to 1960.09.13 (Discoverer 15). First US film reconnaissance satellite, and first polar orbiting satellite. More...
  • 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. More...
  • KH-2 American military surveillance satellite. 10 launches, 1960.10.26 (SRV 506) to 1961.08.04 (SRV 512). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried one 'C-Prime' panoramic camera, with a focal length of 61 cm and a ground resolution of 9 m. More...
  • KH-5 American military surveillance satellite. 16 launches, 1961.02.17 (Discoverer 20) to 1964.08.21 (KH-5 9066A). US mapping satellite. Carried one frame camera, with a focal length of 76 mm, and a ground resolution of 140 m. More...
  • KH-3 American military surveillance satellite. 12 launches, 1961.08.30 (Discoverer 29) to 1962.01.13 (SRV 571). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried one 'C-Double Prime' panoramic camera, with a focal length of 61 cm and a ground resolution of 7.6 m. More...
  • Zenit-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. 81 launches, 1961.12.11 (Zenit-2 11F61 s/n 1) to 1970.05.12 (Cosmos 344). The Zenit-2 was a derivative of the manned Vostok, and the Soviet Union's first spy satellite. More...
  • Ferret American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 19 launches, 1962.02.21 (Ferret 1) to 1971.07.16 (OPS 8373). More...
  • KH-4 American military surveillance satellite. 31 launches, 1962.02.27 (Discoverer 38) to 1963.12.21 (KH-4 9062). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'Mural' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 7.6 m. More...
  • Soyuz R Russian manned spacecraft. Cancelled 1966. A military reconnaissance version of Soyuz, developed by Kozlov at Samara from 1963-1966. It was to consist of an the 11F71 small orbital station and the 11F72 Soyuz 7K-TK manned ferry. More...
  • NRL ELINT American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 6 launches, 1962.12.13 (Black Sphere) to 1969.09.30 (Surcal). NRL ELINT satellite. More...
  • KH-6 American military surveillance satellite. 3 launches, 1963.03.18 (KH-6 8001) to 1963.07.31 (KH 4A-07). US reconnaissance satellite, lashed together to meet an emergency requirement for close-up imaging of a suspected Soviet ICBM site near Tallinn. More...
  • KH-7 American military surveillance satellite. 43 launches, 1963.07.12 (KH 7-01 (Gambit)) to 1967.06.04 (KH 7-38). US reconnaissance satellite. Still classified. Camera believed to have ground resolution of 0.46 m. Film returned in two capsules. More...
  • KH-4A American military surveillance satellite. 70 launches, 1963.08.25 (KH-4A 1001) to 1969.09.22 (SRV 743R). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'J-1' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 2.7 m. More...
  • Zenit-4 Russian military surveillance satellite. 76 launches, 1963.11.16 (Cosmos 22) to 1970.08.07 (Cosmos 355). Zenit-4 was the second Soviet photo-reconnaissance satellite, providing high-resolution imagery to complement the area coverage of the Zenit-2. More...
  • Meteor Russian earth weather satellite. 11 launches, 1964.08.28 (Cosmos 44) to 1969.02.01 (Meteor). The first Soviet weather satellite. Development began with a decree of 30 October 1960. More...
  • Soyuz VI Russian manned combat spacecraft. Cancelled 1965. To determine the usefulness of manned military space flight, two projects were pursued in the second half of the 1960's. More...
  • KH-8 American military surveillance satellite. 61 launches, 1966.07.29 (OPS 3014) to 1984.04.17 (OPS 8424). Longest-lived and last US film-return reconnaissance satellite. Ground resolution 0.5 m. Film returned in two capsules. Typical life 50 days. More...
  • MOL American manned space station. Cancelled 1969. MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory) was the US Air Force's manned space project after Dynasoar was cancelled, until it in turn was cancelled in 1969. The earth orbit station used a helium-oxygen atmosphere. More...
  • KH-4B American military surveillance satellite. 24 launches, 1967.09.15 (KH-4B 1101) to 1972.05.25 (KH-4B 1117). Early US reconnaissance satellite. Carried two 'J-3' panoramic cameras, with a focal length of 61 cm, and a ground resolution of 1.8 m. More...
  • Zenit-2M Russian military surveillance satellite. 101 launches, 1968.03.21 (Cosmos 208) to 1979.08.17 (Cosmos 1122). Planning began in mid-1967 for military systems to enter service through 1975. More...
  • Nauka Russian earth magnetosphere satellite. 45 launches, 1968.03.21 (Nauka) to 1979.08.17 (Cosmos 1122 Nauka). The Nauka containers were flown as piggy-back payloads aboard Zenit reconnaissance satellites. They served a dual purpose. More...
  • Zenit-4M Russian military surveillance satellite. 61 launches, 1968.10.31 (Cosmos 251) to 1974.07.25 (Cosmos 667). Planning began in mid-1967 for military systems to enter service through 1975. More...
  • Yantar-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1968. Survey reconnaissance satellite project of KB Yuzhnoye worked on 1964-1967. More...
  • Yantar-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1968. High resolution reconnaissance satellite project worked on by KB Yuzhnoye 1964-1967. Was to have been derived from Soyuz-R manned spacecraft. More...
  • Zenit-4MK Russian military surveillance satellite. 80 launches, 1969.12.23 (Cosmos 317) to 1977.06.22 (Cosmos 920). Modernized high resolution version of the Zenit-4M satellite that went into service in 1972. Maneuverable; (two-tone telemetry). More...
  • Yantar-3KF Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1969. Survey reconnaissance satellite system studied in 1969. Not put into production. More...
  • Yantar-1KF Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1970. Survey reconnaissance satellite project worked on by Kozlov from 1967, succeeding Yantar-1. To be launched on Soyuz 11A511M launch vehicle. More...
  • KH-9 American military surveillance satellite. 26 launches, 1971.06.15 (KH-9 no. 01 (Big Bird)) to 1986.04.18 (SRV-4). Popularly known as 'Big Bird'. Titan 3C-class film-return reconnaissance satellite. More...
  • Zenit-4MT Russian military surveillance satellite. 23 launches, 1971.12.27 (Cosmos 470) to 1982.08.03 (Cosmos 1398). Special version of Zenit developed for topographical photography. This was developed by OKB-1 Filial 1 based on the Zenit-4M. More...
  • Bion Russian biology satellite. 11 launches, 1973.10.31 (Cosmos 605) to 1996.12.24 (Bion No. 11). Bion was developed for biological studies of the effects of radiation. More...
  • Yantar-2K Russian military surveillance satellite. 30 launches, 1974.05.23 (Yantar-2K failure.) to 1983.06.28 (Cosmos 1471). More...
  • FSW Chinese military surveillance satellite. 24 launches, 1974.11.05 (FSW-0) to 2006.09.09 (SJ-8). More...
  • US-P Russian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 37 launches, 1974.12.24 (Cosmos 699) to 1991.01.18 (Cosmos 2122). The US-P (later known as RTR) was a solar powered EORSAT (Electronic Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite). More...
  • Zenit-4MKT Russian military surveillance satellite. 27 launches, 1975.09.25 (Cosmos 771) to 1985.09.06 (Cosmos 1681). The Zenit-4MKT / Fram was an adaptation of the recoverable Vostok spacecraft for reconnaissance/remote sensing missions. More...
  • Soyuz 7K-MF6 Russian manned spacecraft. One launch, 1976.09.15, Soyuz 22. Soyuz 7K-T modified with installation of East German MF6 multispectral camera. Used for a unique solo Soyuz earth resources mission. More...
  • Zenit-6U Russian military surveillance satellite. 95 launches, 1976.11.24 (Cosmos 867) to 1984.06.19 (Cosmos 1573). A universal variant of the Zenit spacecraft, used in two altitude ranges, for both observation and high resolution missions. More...
  • KH-11 American military surveillance satellite. 9 launches, 1976.12.19 (KH-11 no. 1) to 1988.11.06 (USA 33). Also known as Kennan, Program 1010. Used systems developed for KH-10 Manned Orbiting Laboratory. More...
  • Yantar-4K2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1991. Improved military photo-reconnaissance satellite, using the basic Yantar-4K1 bus. Boost by the Zenit-2 launch vehicle would have allowed 22 film return capsules to be used over a 180 day mission. More...
  • Yantar-6K Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1977. Extremely high resolution version of Yantar studied in 1969. A draft project was completed in May 1977, but the decision was made to keep the basic Yantar-2K satellite bus instead. More...
  • Yantar-6KS Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1977. Electro-optical imaging operational high resolution version of Yantar studied in 1969. More...
  • Zenit-4MKM Russian military surveillance satellite. 39 launches, 1977.07.12 (Cosmos 927) to 1980.10.10 (Cosmos 1214). A further modification of the Zenit-4MK, accepted for military service in 1976, entered service in 1978. More...
  • Yantar-4K1 Russian film-return military surveillance satellite. Operational, first launch 1979.04.27. Flight trials of the Yantar-2K indicated the satellite was not capable of providing strategic warning of attack. The high resolution Yantar-4K provided that capability, while still capable of being launched by the existing Soyuz-U launch vehicle. Lifetime was 45 days. Two small capsules could return film an an interim basis before the main spacecraft with film returned to earth. More...
  • Resurs F1-17F41 Russian earth land resources satellite. 29 launches, 1979.09.05 (Cosmos 1127) to 1986.05.28 (Cosmos 1746). The 17F41 was the first of 4 models of the Resurs-F to fly. More...
  • Yantar-2K-M Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1980. Planned upgrade of Yantar-2K. Not put into production. More...
  • Yantar-1KFT Russian military surveillance satellite. 21 launches, 1981.02.18 (Cosmos 1246) to 2005.09.02 (Cosmos 2415). Version of the Yantar photo satellite for topographic mapping on behalf of the Red Army. More...
  • Yantar-4KS1 Russian military electro-optical surveillance satellite. Operational, first launched 1982.12.28. More...
  • Multipurpose Satellite Gals Russian earth resources radar satellite. Study 1983. Heavy radar satellite based on the DOS 17K space station bus and using a KRT-30, a 30 m diameter radiotelescope. More...
  • Yantar-4KS2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1983. The Yantar-4KS2 was a heavy military optical reconnaissance satellite, required to have the same capabilities as the KH-11/Crystal reconnaissance satellite of the United States. More...
  • Zenit-8 Russian military surveillance satellite. 101 launches, 1984.06.11 (Cosmos 1571) to 1994.06.07 (Cosmos 2281). More...
  • Resurs F1-14F40 Russian earth land resources satellite. 7 launches, 1986.07.16 (Cosmos 1762) to 1988.02.18 (Cosmos 1920). The Resurs-F earth resource satellite was based on the recoverable Zenit-4 spy satellite. More...
  • Orlets-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. 4 launches, 1986.10.22 (GVM) to 2000.09.25 (Cosmos 2372). More...
  • Koltso Russian military target satellite. One launch, 1986.10.22, Cosmos 1786. Calibration mission. Tentatively identified as third generation replacement for Taifun-2, perhaps to have been launched by the Tsyklon 3 launch vehicle. More...
  • Almaz-T Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. 3 launches, 1986.11.29 (Almaz-T s/n 303 Failure) to 1991.03.31 (Almaz 1). The results of the manned Almaz flights showed that manned reconnaissance from space was not worth the expense. More...
  • Resurs F2 Russian earth land resources satellite. 11 launches, 1987.12.26 (Cosmos 1906) to 1995.09.26 (Resurs F2 N.10). Adaptation of recoverable Vostok spacecraft for remote sensing. More...
  • Resurs F1-14F43 Russian earth land resources satellite. 18 launches, 1988.05.31 (Cosmos 1951) to 1993.08.24 (Resurs F-19). A decree of 5 May 1977 authorized development of three earth resource satellites. More...
  • Singleton American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 3 launches, 1988.09.05 (USA 32) to 1992.04.25 (USA 81). Signals intelligence satellite; possibly some kind of imaging also done. On-board propulsion boosts spacecraft to 800 km operating orbit. More...
  • Ofeq 1-2 Israeli technology satellite. 2 launches, 1988.09.19 (Ofeq-1) to 1990.04.03 (Ofeq-2). Ofeq, meaning 'Horizon', was a technology demonstration satellite developed by IAI (Israel Aircraft Industries) for ISA (Israel Space Agency). More...
  • Pirs-2 Russian military naval radar satellite. Cancelled 1988. The Pirs-2 was the second phase nuclear-powered active-radar naval targeting spacecraft. More...
  • Pion Russian earth atmosphere satellite. 6 launches, 1989.05.25 (Pion) to 1992.08.19 (Pion 2). Deployed from Resurs F1, which carried two passive separable "Pion" probes to investigate upper atmospheric density. More...
  • Orlets-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. 8 launches, 1989.07.18 (Cosmos 2031) to 2006.09.14 (Cosmos 2423). Multi-purpose satellite, designed for both close-look and survey missions, equipped with a panoramic camera, equipped with 8 film return capsules. More...
  • Greensat South African earth land resources satellite. Cancelled 1990. The South African RSA-3 launch vehicle was designed to place a small surveillance satellite of 330 kg mass into a 41 degree, 212 x 460 km orbit around the earth. More...
  • US-PU Ukrainian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 13 launches, 1993.03.30 (Cosmos 2238) to 2006.06.24 (Cosmos 2421). More...
  • Almaz-1B Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. Study 1993. More...
  • Ofeq 3 Israeli military surveillance satellite. 4 launches, 1995.04.05 (Ofeq-3) to 2006.04.25 (EROS-B). Ofeq 3 was Israel's second-generation imaging surveillance satellite. More...
  • Almaz-2 Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. Study 1995. Plans for an even more sophisticated and capable civilian Almaz 2 spacecraft were made in the early 1990's. Almaz 2's payload mass of 6. More...
  • Mirka German re-entry vehicle technology satellite. One launch, 1997.10.09. German miniature re-entry vehicle attached to exterior of Russian Resurs satellite. After release from Resurs landed in Kazakhstan Oct 23. More...
  • Resurs F1M Russian earth land resources satellite. 2 launches, 1997.11.17 (Resurs F-1M) to 1999.09.28 (Resurs F-1M). Variant of the Resurs-F recoverable earth resources satellite. See Resurs F1-17F40 for a full technical description. More...

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