Encyclopedia Astronautica
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Medium earth orbit
Category of spacecraft.


Transit Spin-stabilized Transit satellites were developed by the US Navy beginning in 1958 for the first operational navigation satellite system. Transit provided continuous navigation satellite service from 1964, initially for Polaris submarines and later for civilian use. The use of the satellites for navigation was discontinued at the end of 1996 (replaced by GPS/Navstar), but the seemingly-indestructible satellites continued transmitting and became the Navy Ionospheric Monitoring System (NIMS). 46 launches, 1959.09.17 (Transit 1A) to 1988.08.25 (Transit O-31).

Midas American military early warning satellite. Part of a then-secret USAF program known as WS-117L, the MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System) program began in November 1958.

TIROS TIROS spacecraft were the beginning of a long series of American polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. The objective was to establish a global weather satellite system.

GRAB First American military signals intelligence satellite, launched 1960-1962; not declassified until 1998.

Echo American passive communications satellite. The Echo satellites were NASA's first experimental communications satellite project.

Courier American communications technology satellite. Experimental communications.

TRAAC American technology satellite. Transit Research and Attitude Control.

SECOR American earth geodetic satellite.

SURCAL American military target satellite.

OSO American solar satellite. The Orbiting Solar Observatories, developed for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, were designed primarily as stabilized platforms for solar-oriented scientific instruments.

Anna American earth geodetic satellite.

Telstar American communications satellite.

Relay American communications technology satellite.

SSF American military signals intelligence satellite.

Dash American military technology satellite.

APL satellite American earth magnetosphere satellite. 3 launches, 1963.09.28 (APL SN 39) to 1964.12.13 (APL SN 43). Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built several satellites for the Air Force in the 1960's.

GGSE American gravity gradient technology satellite. 5 launches, 1964.01.11 (GGSE 1) to 1967.05.31 (GGSE 5). Developed designs and deployment techniques later applied to the NOSS / Whitecloud naval reconnaissance satellites.

Echo 2 American passive communications satellite. Passive communications satellite; balloon; 1st joint US/USSR space mission.

Strela-1 Russian military store-dump communications satellite.

IE American earth ionosphere satellite. Explorer 20. Ionospheric research.

Calsphere American military target satellite. Radar calibration objects (but also cover for other classified subsatellites).

Beacon American earth ionosphere satellite. Early technology satellite. None reached orbit.

LES American communications technology satellite.

DODECAPOLE American military target satellite.

Snapshot American ion engine technology satellite. Carried SNAP-9A nuclear power source. The on-board reactor provided electrical power for a 2.2-lb ion engine.

LCS American military target satellite. Aluminum sphere used for radar calibration.

Tempsat American military target satellite. Surveillance Calibration; black 14 inch diameter. sphere.

OV2 American earth magnetosphere satellite. OV2 satellites were built for the USAF Office of Aerospace Research, and flew as secondary payloads on Titan IIIC test flights.

GEOS American solar satellite. The GEOS spacecraft were gravity-gradient-stabilized, solar-cell powered satellites designed exclusively for geodetic studies.

IQSY American solar satellite. Explorer 30. Solar radiation data.

FRANCE satellite French earth ionosphere satellite. Investigated the properties of the ionized layers of the atmosphere by observation of the propagation of very low frequency waves in the ionosphere.

Strela-2 Russian military store-dump communications satellite.

US-A Russian military naval surveillance radar satellite. The US-A (later known as RLS) was a nuclear powered RORSAT (Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite).

OAO American visible astronomy satellite.

Pageos American earth geodetic satellite. 100 foot diameter. balloon.

Tsiklon satellite Russian navigation satellite.

Owl American earth ionosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1967.05.18 (Transit 16) to 1967.09.25 (Transit 17).

Timation American navigation technology satellite.

Tselina-O Ukrainian ELINT satellite. From 1965 to 1967 two dedicated ELINT systems were tested by the Soviet Union: Tselina and US. Both were routinely operated.

Aurora American earth magnetosphere satellite. Investigated aurora borealis.

Sfera Russian earth geodetic satellite. The Sfera geodetic system covered a broad development for solving problems in geodetics, continental drift, and precise location of cartographic points.

IS-P Russian military anti-satellite system target satellite. ASAT Target, launched by R-36. Evidently a derivative of the first IS-A ASAT itself.

RAE American radio astronomy satellite.

RADCAT American military technology satellite.

Meteor M 11F614 Russian earth weather satellite. Acquisition of meteorological information needed for use by the weather service.

PAC American technology satellite. Package Attitude Control; semi-active gravity gradient stabilization tests.

SOICAL American military target satellite.

Ionosfernaya Russian earth ionosphere satellite. Ionospheric studies. Used the basic KAUR-1 bus, consisting of a 2.

Strela-1M Russian military store-dump communications satellite. 3

Rhyolite American military signals intelligence satellite.

Strela-2M Russian military store-dump communications satellite.

Peole French communications satellite. Gathered data from meteorological balloon system.

SAS Italian solar satellite.

Tselina-D Ukrainian military signals intelligence satellite. The Tselina D was the detailed observation portion of the two-satellite Tselina ELINT satellite system.

DS-P1-M Ukrainian military anti-satellite system target satellite. Target for IS ASAT systems tests.

Tselina-OM Ukrainian military signals intelligence satellite. Study 1970. Improved version of Tselina-O. Either not put into production or later launches listed as Tselina-O were actually of Tselina-OM model.

Gridsphere American technology satellite.

Mylar American technology satellite.

Rigidsphere American military target satellite.

Eole satellite French earth weather satellite. Experimental weather satellite; received meteorological data from balloon network.

ASTEX American technology satellite. Space Test Program; technology experiments.

NOSS American military signals intelligence satellite. Ocean surveillance; aka White Cloud type spacecraft; Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite; PARCAE.

TIP American navigation satellite.

Skynet British military communications satellite network.

Meteor-Priroda Russian earth land resources satellite.

NTS American navigation technology satellite. Demonstrated navigation technologies.

Parus Russian navigation satellite. Military satellite which provided navigation information and store-dump radio communications to Soviet naval forces and ballistic missile submarines.

Starlette French earth geodetic satellite. Geodesic satellite.

Meteor-2 Russian earth weather satellite. Successor to the Meteor-1 weather satellite.

ETS Japanese technology satellite.

JISS Japanese earth ionosphere satellite. JISS - national name "Ume". Spin-stabilized; Ionospheric Sounder, Radio Noise Receiver, Plasma Measuring Equipment, Ion Mass Spectrometer, and other instruments.

NOSS-Subsat American military naval signals reconnaissance satellite. Detected the location of naval vessels using radio interferometry.

LAGEOS American earth geodetic satellite. The LAGEOS satellites were passive vehicles covered with retroreflectors designed to reflect laser beams transmitted from ground stations.

Tsikada Russian navigation satellite. Tsikada was a complementary civilian version of the Parus military naval navigation satellite system for the Soviet Merchant Marine and Academy of Sciences.

HEAO American x-ray astronomy satellite. The 3 satellites of the High Energy Astronomical Observatory program surveyed the celestial sphere for X-ray sources and gamma and cosmic ray phenomena.

GPS Block 1 American navigation satellite. GPS Block 1 prototype satellites formed the GPS Demonstration system and were followed by the Block 2 operational system.

Radio Russian amateur radio communications satellite.

Astrofizika Russian earth geodetic satellite. Cosmos 1066. Based on the Meteor-1 bus but carried special optical instruments for the observation of lasers on Earth.

Okean-E Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. First prototype of Okean series. Development of methods for obtaining operational information on the Pacific Ocean.

Geo-IK Russian earth geodetic satellite. Development of a second generation geodetic satellite system began in 1977.

IK-B-1300 Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. Intercosmos 22. Intercosmos-Bulgaria 1300. Comprehensive investigation of physical processes in the earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere.

SSTL-70 British microsatellite bus. 1 Basic Surrey Microsat bus.

Nadezhda Ukrainian navigation satellite.

Glonass Russian navigation satellite. Glonass was a Soviet space-based navigation system comparable to the American GPS system.

HILAT American communications satellite. One launch, 1983.06.27. Communications technology tests. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication.

Okean-OE Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite.

Tselina-2 Ukrainian military signals intelligence satellite.

ERBS American earth magnetosphere satellite. ERBS was part of the NASA's three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), designed to investigate how energy from the Sun is absorbed and re-emitted by the Earth.

Meteor-3 Russian earth weather satellite. Meteor-3 began in 1972 as an improved replacement for the Meteor-2 weather satellite.

Strela-3 Russian military store-dump communications satellite. Said to have initially been developed for the GRU.

Geosat American earth resources radar satellite. Geosat was a US Navy satellite designed to measure sea surface heights to within 5 cm.

Okean-O1 Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. Third generation Soviet oceanographic research satellite, equipped with a side-looking radar, radiometer, and multi-spectral scanner.

EGS Japanese earth geodetic satellite. Experimental Geophysical Payload; new launch vehicle test flight. EGS (Ajisai). Improvement of the accuracy of domestic geodetic triangulation network.

MABES Japanese technology satellite. MABES (Jindai). Experiment on the levitation of the magnetic bearing flywheel under zero-g condition.

Polar Bear American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1986.11.14. also known as STP P87-1, a military mission designed to study communications interference caused by solar flares and increased auroral activity.

Pirs-1 Russian military naval surveillance radar satellite. 2 launches, 1987.02.02 and 1987.07.10 .

Lacrosse (satellite) Null

Etalon Russian earth geodetic satellite. Passive geodetic satellites, 1415 kg, 1.294 m in diameter, covered with 306 antenna arrays, each with 14 corner cubes for laser reflection.

GPS Block 2 and 2A American navigation satellite. The Navstar GPS constellation worked in concert with ground receivers to give precise location information to military and civilian users anywhere in the world.

HST American visible astronomy satellite. The Hubble Space Telescope was designed to provide a space telescope with an order of magnitude better resolution than ground-based instruments.

MACSAT American military communications satellite.

ROSAT German x-ray astronomy satellite. West German extreme UV, X-ray telescope; all-sky survey.

NOSS-2 American military naval signals reconnaissance satellite. 5 launches, 1990.06.08 (USA 59) to 1996.05.12 (USA 122). New generation of NOSS naval reconnaissance satellites.

NOSS-2 subsatellite American military naval signals reconnaissance satellite. 6 launches, 1990.06.08 (USA 60) to 1991.11.08 (USA 77).

Tselina-3 Ukrainian military signals intelligence satellite. Cancelled in the early 1990s. The Tselina-3 third generation two-tier ELINT satellite system was developed in parallel with Tselina-2.

Informator Russian communications satellite. Oscar 21. Informator was the spacecraft component of the planned Koskon medium earth-orbit communications satellite system.

REX American earth ionosphere satellite. The REX satellites were designed to study scintillation effects of the Earth's atmosphere on RF transmissions.

Orbcomm Orbital Communications Corp, Dulles, USA. Orbcomm was a commercial venture to provide global messaging services using a constellation of 26 low-Earth orbiting satellites.

Solar (Japanese satellite) Null

UARS American earth ionosphere satellite. The Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite was designed to study the physical and chemical processes occurring in the Earth's upper atmosphere (between 15 and 100 km).

Radiobook Russian communications satellite. Study 1991. The Radiobook network would utilize from 24 to 36 micro-satellites (10 kg or less) in a packet radio network, which could be launched with small boosters, including air-launched missiles.

EUVE American ultraviolet astronomy satellite. The EUVE Extreme Ultra-Violet Explorer mission mapped space in the 70- to 760-angstrom portion of the spectrum and conducted detailed ultraviolet examinations of selected celestial targets.

SAMPEX American earth magnetosphere satellite.

Gonets-D1 Russian civilian store-dump communications satellite. Commercial version of GRU Strela-3 military store-dump satellite.

Topex/Poseidon American earth sea satellite. TOPEX/Poseidon was a co-operative mission between the United States and France designed to provide high-accuracy global sea level measurements.

CDS American communications technology satellite. Orbcomm OXP-1. Experimental spacecraft.

SCD Brazilian communications technology satellite. Environmental data relay.

Start satellite Russian communications technology satellite. Experimental satellite carried on test flight of the Start-1 carrier rocket, a new booster based on SS-25 ICBM.

ALEXIS American x-ray astronomy satellite. ALEXIS was a small spacecraft built for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Its mission was to provide high resolution maps of low-energy astronomical x-ray sources.

Radcal American military target satellite. Radar calibration.

Temisat Italian communications technology satellite. Temisat's primary mission was demonstration of a data relay system.

Elekon Russian communications satellite. Study 1993.

Globsat Russian communications satellite. Study 1993. The Salyut Design Bureau proposed the least ambitious of all Russian low earth orbit communications systems.

Pallada Russian communications satellite. Study 1993. The Pallada network was devised by the Moscow Radio Communications Research Institute for Commonwealth of Independent States communications services, including voice, telegraph, fax, and data transmissions.

DARPASAT American technology satellite. USA 102. GPS receiver and data processor technology tests.

TAOS American military strategic defense satellite. USA 101. TAOS was a technology demonstration satellite whose purpose was to demonstrate autonomous space navigation systems to reduce satellite ground support needs.

Eagle American military strategic defense satellite.

Astrid Swedish earth magnetosphere satellite. Sweden's third scientific satellite and first microsatellite.

FAISAT American military communications satellite. Store/forward communications.

GFZ-1 German earth geodetic satellite. GFZ-1 was a geodetic satellite designed to improve the current knowledge of the Earth's gravity field.

XTE American x-ray astronomy satellite. X-ray Timing Explorer; X-ray astronomy.

Konvert Russian communications satellite. Study 1995. The Elas Scientific Production Association was a principal participant in the proposed Kuryer communications system of Konvert spacecraft.

SPS-Sputnik Russian communications satellite. Study 1995.

SAX Italian x-ray astronomy satellite. Beppo SAX. Satellite per Astronomia a raggi X; X-ray celestial observatory

TiPS American tether technology satellite. The 53 kg satellite consisted of 2 end masses connected by a 4 km tether. NRO (the National Reconnaissance Office) provided funding for the TiPS project.

HETE American gamma ray astronomy satellite. The High Energy Transient Experiment (HETE) was an international mission led by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

SAC-B Argentinian solar satellite. SAC-B, an Argentine / US mission, was designed to study solar physics and astrophysics through the examination of solar flares, gamma-ray burst sources and the diffuse soft X-ray cosmic background.

GPS Block 2R American navigation satellite.

CPAC American burial satellite. Celestis.

Minisat American technology satellite. The Minisat spacecraft were built for the Spanish space Agency by CASA.

LM 700 American communications satellite. The LM 700 had its first use in the Iridium system, a commercial communications network comprised of a minimum of 66 LEO spacecraft.

Arkon-1 Russian military surveillance satellite.

FORTE American earth magnetosphere satellite. FORTE - 'Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events' - was a US Los Alamos National Laboratory satellite designed to study natural and artificial radio emissions from the ionosphere.

ETS-7 Japanese rendezvous technology satellite. Hikoboshi. Technology satellite, to accomplish remote automatic rendezvous and docking.

Odyssey Odyssey Worldwide Services, American commercial communications satellite network. Operations were planned in 1997 to begin by the end of 1998. However in the event the entire enterprise was cancelled when the dot-com / MEO satellite bubble burst.

Celestis American burial-in-space service. Celestis offers the the opportunity for the space-smitten to have (a portion) of their cremated remains to be put into orbit.

GFO American earth resources radar satellite. GFO was a follow-on to the successful GEOSAT program which flew between 1985 and 1990. GFO was to provide real-time ocean topography data to 65 Navy users at sea and on shore.

Globalstar The Globalstar constellation was a Medium Earth Orbit system for mobile voice and data communications developed and operated by Globalstar Communications Corporation, San Jose, California, USA.

STEX American tether technology satellite. STEX's (Space Technology EXperiments) main equipment was provided by the Naval Research Laboratory.

SWAS American infrared astronomy satellite. SWAS, the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, had a 0.6m telescope with a 490 to 550 GHz submillimeter receiver and an acousto-optical spectrometer.

Astrid-2 Swedish earth magnetosphere satellite. Swedish Space Corporation's second microsatellite (based on Astrid-1) was slated to perform high resolution E-field and B-filed measurements in the Earth's auroral regions.

ROCSAT Taiwanese earth sea satellite. Taiwan's ROCSAT (Republic of China Satellites) were built for Taiwan's National Space Program Office.

Orsted Danish earth magnetosphere satellite.

Sunsat South African technology satellite. Sunsat was built by students at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and carried a small imager and a message relay payload.

MiniSat-400 British technology satellite. Basic Surrey Minisat bus.

ABRIXAS German x-ray astronomy satellite. X-ray astronomy satellite with the mission to carry out an all-sky survey in the 1-10 keV band with 30 arc second resolution.

Megsat MegSat, Gruppo Meggiorin, Brescia, Italy. Builder of the first private Italian satellites, Megsats were microsatellites designed to transmit scientific and commercial data. Italian communications technology satellite.

FUSE American ultraviolet astronomy satellite. FUSE carried four 0.35m far ultraviolet telescopes each with an ultraviolet high resolution spectrograph.

Gonets Russian civilian store-dump communications satellite. Study 1999. The first generation store-dump communications Gonets-D system was to have been followed by an advanced Gonets-R design equipped with satellite-to-satellite links.

Meteor-3M Russian earth weather satellite. The Meteor-3 weather satellite was to be followed in 1996 by the first of the Meteor-3M class, which was finally put into orbit in 2001. No furthussian earth weather satellite. The Meteor-3 weather satellite was to be followed in 1996 by the first of the Meteor-3M class, which was finally put into orbit in 2001. No further launches, and succeeded by the Meteor-M in 2010.

Meteor-M New-generation Russian weather satellite, successor to the Meteor-3M, with new electronics and designed for launch by the Soyuz ST launch vehicle rather than the discontinued Tsiklon-3 and non-Russian Zenit-2.

GPS Block 2F American navigation satellite. Study 2005. Block IIF satellites were the fourth generation of the Navstar satellite, launched from 2010.05.28.

GPS Block 3 American navigation satellite. Study 2010. GPS III, as planned in 2003, would be the fifth generation of Navstar satellites. They would continue to deliver the new civil signals and improved military codes initiated on the GPS IIR-M and IIF programs.

More at: 7680.

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