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Poppy (24 in series)

Poppy (24in Version) [NRO]

Poppy with GGSE-3 [NRL]

Poppy was the follow-on ELINT system, which succeeded the Grab ELINT satellite system. The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) proposed and developed Poppy, an electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite system in 1962. Poppy's mission was to collect radar emissions from Soviet air and missile defense radars. The primary organizations that supported the Poppy Program included NRO, NSA, NRL, the Naval Security Group, the Air Force Security Service, the Army Security Agency and the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The Poppy Program was a component of the NRO Program C and NRL designed, developed, and operated Poppy satellites within Program C. NRO Program A provided launch support for Poppy. NSA received, analyzed, and reported findings derived from the intercepted radar signals from Poppy. The Naval Security Group, with support from Air Force Security Service and Army Security Agency, coordinated field operations and maintained and operated Poppy ground sites.

The Poppy Program operated from December 1962 through August 1977 using satellites of three configurations: 20 in series, a 24 in series and a multifaceted series. A total of seven Poppy satellites launches were conducted. Poppy's average useful life on orbit was 34 months.

The second generation of Poppy satellites used an enlarged 24 in (61 cm) satellite structure with a central cylindrical band added giving the satellite a length of 81 cm. It featured 8 solar patches for increased power. Some satellites used experimental 2- or 3-axis gravity gradient stabilization and ammonia microthrusters for station keeping in order to maintain the orbital configuration of the Poppy constellation.

Most of the 24in Poppy satellites carried a secondary payload. Under this name these Poppy satellites were known to the public with the Poppy payload remaining secret.

  • Poppy 4A carried Solrad 6
  • Poppy 4C carried RADOSE (or Dosimeter) for radiation dosimeter measurements
  • Poppy 5A carried Solrad 7A
  • Poppy 6A carried Solrad 7B
  • Poppy 6C carried GGSE 2 as a technological testbed for gravity stabilisation of satellites.
  • Poppy 6D carried GGSE 3 as a technological testbed for gravity stabilisation of satellites.

The Poppy 4 launch also reached a shortlived elliptical orbit, as the Agena-D failed to reignite to circularize the orbit.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: ELINT
Operator: Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) / US Navy
Contractors: Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)
Equipment:
Configuration:
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Lifetime: ca. 34 month (average)
Mass:
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Poppy 4A (NRL-PL 110, Solrad 6) 1963-021C 15.06.1963 Va 75-1-1 P Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 4B, Poppy 4C (RADOSE), LOFTI 2A, Surcal 3, Wild Bill 4
Poppy 4C (NRL-PL 130, RADOSE, Dosimeter) 1963-021E 15.06.1963 Va 75-1-1 P Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 4A (Solrad 6), Poppy 4B, LOFTI 2A, Surcal 3, Wild Bill 4
Poppy 5A (NRL-PL 124, Solrad 7A) 1964-001D 11.01.1964 Va 75-3-5 Thor-SLV2A Agena-D with Poppy 5B, Poppy 5C (GGSE 1), SECOR 1, Hayloft
Poppy 6A (NRL-PL 141, Solrad 7B) 1965-016D 09.03.1965 Va 75-1-2 Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 6B, Poppy 6C (GGSE 2), Poppy 6D (GGSE 3), SECOR 3, Dodecapole 1, Surcal 4, OSCAR 3
Poppy 6B (NRL-PL 142) 1965-016A 09.03.1965 Va 75-1-2 Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 6A (Solrad 7B), Poppy 6C (GGSE 2), Poppy 6D (GGSE 3), SECOR 3, Dodecapole 1, Surcal 4, OSCAR 3
Poppy 6C (NRL-PL 143, GGSE 2) 1965-016B 09.03.1965 Va 75-1-2 Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 6A (Solrad 7B), Poppy 6B, Poppy 6D (GGSE 3), SECOR 3, Dodecapole 1, Surcal 4, OSCAR 3
Poppy 6D (NRL-PL 144, GGSE 3) 1965-016C 09.03.1965 Va 75-1-2 Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 6A (Solrad 7B), Poppy 6B, Poppy 6C (GGSE 2), SECOR 3, Dodecapole 1, Surcal 4, OSCAR 3
Poppy 7A (NRL-PL 151) 1967-053G 31.05.1967 Va SLC-2W Thor-DM21 Agena-D with Poppy 7B (GGSE 4), Poppy 7C, Poppy 7D (GGSE 5), Timation 1, Calsphere 3, Calsphere 4, NRL-PL 150B, OPS 5712
Further GGSE missions: