Samos (satellite) - Vehicle Missions

Vehicle Missions

Name Launch date Mass (kg) Apogee (km) Perigee (km) Inclination (deg) NSSDC ID Comments
Samos 1 Oct. 11, 1960 1,845 -------- -------- -------- 1960-F13, SAMOS-1 Launch Failure; satellite destroyed
Samos 2 Jan. 31, 1961 1,900 557 474 97.4 1961-ALPHA-1, 1961-001A First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of

images; micrometeroid impact data. Decayed 10/21/71

Samos 3 Sept. 9, 1961 1,150 -------- -------- -------- 1961-F09, SAMOS-3 Exploded on launch pad
Samos 4 Nov. 22, 1961 1,860 -------- -------- -------- 1961-F13, NNN6101 Failed to orbit
Samos 5 Dec. 22, 1961 1,860 244 702 89.6 1961-ALPHA-LAMBDA-2, 1961-035A Decayed 8/14/62
Samos 6 March 7, 1962 1,860 251 676 90.9 1962-ETA-3, 1962-007A Decayed 6/7/63
Samos 7 April 26, 1962 1,588 203 204 92.0 1962-PI, 1962-016A Decayed 4/28/62
Samos 8 June 17, 1962 1,860 -------- -------- -------- 1962-PSI, 1962-023A Decayed 6/18/62
Samos 9 July 18, 1962 1,860 184 236 96.1 1962-ZETA, 1962-030A Decayed 7/25/62
Samos 10 August 5, 1962 1,860 205 205 96.3 1962-ALPHA-LAMBDA, 1962-035A Decayed 8/6/62
Samos 11 November 11, 1962 1,860 206 206 96 1962-BETA-PI, 1962-064A Decayed 11/12/1962
Samos 87 March 1, 1972 unk unk unk unk unk DOD launch classified.

From October 1960 to November 1962, at least 11 launch attempts were made. Portions of the program are still considered classified information. It is believed that the program was cancelled because the imagery produced was poor. The program was operated by the United States Air Force, but was overshadowed by the CIA's Corona program.

At least two different generations of the satellite were made, and at least four different types of cameras were used. Early on, the idea was to use frame readout cameras that would take a picture and send the scanned image via radio to ground stations on Earth. This system was apparently troublesome, so the program also developed a photographic film return system where the camera and used film would be ejected and be retrieved as it floated down through the atmosphere by parachute. Film-return satellites would remain the standard until the KH-11 satellite with digital imaging capability emerged in the 1970s.

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