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Pilot 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Pilot [NOTS]

The Project Pilot payloads were small cylindrical satellites, which were launched by a four-stage Pilot (NOTS-EV1) vehicle from an F-4D1 Skyray. This was the first attempt to launch a satellite from an aircraft. The satellites were annular shaped, built around the final stage of the launch vehicle, the `NOTS 3 in. Spherical Motor', which was to remain connected with the payload.

The satellite, which was mostly refered to by its nickname 'NOTSnik', was originally intended as a military weather satellite for short notice launches to investigate the weather over a target area. It had a diameter of 20 cm, weighed only 1.05 kg and had a single instrument, a very primitive infrared line-scanning device to make crude IR images of the ground. The Pilot program was top secret at that time.

The payloads were modified as diagnostic payloads for the Project Argus high altitude nuclear tests. The infra-red scanner was finally flown on some early Transit spacecraft.

Apparently all launches failed. Some rumours exist, that Pilot 1 and Pilot 3 reached orbit, but this remains very doubtful as an engineer involved in the project recalls, that there were some signals picked up by ground stations, but those were most probably not from the satellite.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: NOTS
Contractors: NOTS
Equipment: IR Scanner
Configuration: Annular body with small rocket motor in the center, spin stabilized
Propulsion: None in orbit
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: few hours
Mass: 1 kg
Orbit: 2250 km × 2400 km
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Pilot 1 1958-F07 25.07.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)
Pilot 2 1958-F08 12.08.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)
Pilot 3 1958-F10 22.08.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)
Pilot 4 1958-F12 25.08.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)
Pilot 5 1958-F13 26.08.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)
Pilot 6 1958-F14 28.08.1958 In F Pilot (NOTS-EV1)