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Middlecourse Space Experiment


Designation 23851 / 96024A
Launch date 24 Apr 1996
Country of origin United States
Operator Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO)
Perigee/Apogee 896/906 km
Inclination 99°
Launch vehicle Delta 2 #235
Mass at launch 2600 kg

Will study the infrared, visible and ultraviolet signatures of ballistic missiles in their midcourse phase (after the launch vehicle rocket plume has shut down). MSX will also perform civilian scientific research, with atmospheric observations and astronomical studies. It will provide data on small debris in space.

Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory built the MSX spacecraft for the BMDO. The Spirit III cryogenic-cooled infrared sensor system was supplied to BMDO by Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory.

Released a few tiny sub-satellites

External resources

sat-index articles

Technical data

Telemetry: 2282.5 MHz
Data: 8475.0 MHz


SPIRIT III: 0.34m Spatial IR Imaging Telescope, 2.5 -28 microns
UVISI: UV and Visible Imagers and Spectrographic Imagers
CIC: Contamination Instrumentation Complement (to study outgassing and contamination of optical surfaces)
SBV: Space Based Visible camera, 0.15m telescope/CCD

Spirit III is the first cryogenic infrared telescope to use solid hydrogen instead of the liquid helium that has been used by infrared astronomy satellites in the past. The hydrogen will maintain the dewar at 8.5K.

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