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Also called Wide-Field Infrared Explorer and SMEX 5


Designation 25646 / 99011A
Launch date 5 Mar 1999
Country of origin United States
Mission Scientific: IR astronomy
Perigee/Apogee 539/587 km
Inclination 97.5°
Launch vehicle Pegasus XL #26

The cover of Wire was ejected too early (3 days early?) and caused cryogen to leak out. This was caused by faulty electronics which caused the ejection of the cover. The satellite lost proper stabilization after launch. All the cryogen was lost, primary mission failed. The spacecraft is now to be used as an engineering testbed to evaluate advanced attitude control systems, communications, and data handling and operations. It is also used to measure variation in luminosity of stars.

The satellite was not insured.

WIRE would have used a single cryogenically cooled infrared telescope to survey selected target areas in two infrared bands. WIRE was specifically designed to detect the maximum number of high-red shift starburst galaxies using the smallest, simplest instrument possible. The WIRE survey would have been over 500 times fainter than the IRAS Faint Source Survey at 12 and 25 µm.

End of life

Out of service  
Decay 10 May 2011

External resources


sat-index articles

Technical data


Prime contractor  
Mass at launch 254 kg
Mass in orbit  
Solar array  
DC power 160 W
Design lifetime 4 months

Telemetry: 2215 MHz (realtime: 23.4375 kbps, playback: 1.125 or 2.25 Mbps)
Command: 2039.65 MHz (2 kbps)

Telescope: 30 cm Cassegrain

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