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Designation 23752 / 95072B
Launch date 28 Dec 1995 at 06:45 UT
Country of origin United States
Mission Scientific
Perigee/Apogee 804/813 km
Inclination 98.6°
Period 101 min
Launch vehicle Molniya M
Launch site Tyuratam
Mass at launch 257 kg

End of life

Out of service 28 Dec 1995
Cause Failed after deployment because the solar panels were wired to discharge instead of charge.

Joint US-Russian satellite: Utah State University provided the forward instrument section an the Moscow Aviation Institute the satellite bus. Shape is a cylinder, 0.8 m diameter and 1.3 m long.

Utah State University's Space Dynamics laboratory in Logan, Utah is the prime contractor and has already conducted similar bow shock test with sub-orbital rockets in April 1990 and February 1991: Bow Shock Ultraviolet 1 and 2. These tests showed ultraviolet light are generated by the bow shock, but tests at higher altitudes and faster speeds needs to be done.

Skipper is to investigate bow shock emissions and aerothermal chemistry reactions produced in Earth's upper atmosphere by manoeuvering and re-entering missile warheads having velocity profiles similar to those expected from the next generation of fast-burning solid propellant missiles. Skipper spacecraft is an orbital successor to the suborbital Bow Shock 1 and 2 sounding rocket missions which revealed unexpected date on re-entering warhead signatures and which now require more extended experiment and observation time provided by an orbital test.

Spacecraft will carry instrumentation including three scanning spectrometers, a hydrazine thruster system and a photometer plus instrumentation support systems, attitude control and manoeuvering thrusters and science and engineering telemetry to acquire data from higher altitudes and velocities where significant changes in physical processes associated with re-entering warheads are encountered.

On subsequent revolutions perigee will be gradually reduced through controlled manoeuvres to between 120 km and 130 km, spacecraft traverses through very low perigees being observed to simulate warhead re-entries into Earth's upper atmosphere. Perigee will be decreased until atmospheric drag threatens to initiate re-entry.

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