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Samos-E5

Samos 6 [USAF]

Samos E-5 (Satellite and Missile Observation System) was an attempt to create an high-resolution reconnaissance satellite with film return via reentry capsule. After the limitations of the original readout system became apparent, the focus shifted to recovery techniques, already pioneered by CORONA. In May 1960 USAF undersecretary Charyk ordered SAMOS to be reoriented to recovery techniques since it had become apparent that readout was in trouble.

Samos-E-5 was also known as Program 101B.

The Samos-E-5 carried the E-5 recoverable panoramic camera with 1.67 m focal length, 1.5 m ground resolution, and 98 km swath length. The satellite carried a much larger reentry vehicle then Corona. It contained not only the film, but also parts of the camera to be reused. According to a 1965 memo by the CIA's Albert Wheelon, the E-5 capsule was designed so that it could be used as a piloted space vehicle for a military counterpart to NASA's Mercury program.

The Agena stage remained connected to the spacecraft and provided attitude control. It is not clear, if the spacecraft carried solar panels.

At the time of recovery, the camera mirror was jettisoned, the Agena retrofired and spun up, and the capsule separated for recovery by air snatch over sea or land.

Some of the unflown E-5 panoramic cameras were used later in the KH-6 Lanyard satellites, with less-than-favorable results.

Secondary Payloads

Some satellites carried secondary payloads mounted on the satellite:

  • SAMOS 5 carried the St. Low 1 (Aftrack 18) ELINT payload
  • SAMOS 6 carried the St. Low 2 (Aftrack 21) ELINT payload
Nation: USA
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, photo (film return type)
Operator: USAF
Contractors:
Equipment: E-5 Camera
Configuration: Agena-B
Propulsion: Bell 8081
Power: Batteries
Lifetime: 15 - 30 days
Mass:
Orbit: 244 km × 702 km, 89.6 (#5); 251 km × 676 km, 90.9 (#6)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Samos-E5 GTV - not flown Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 1 (Samos 4) 1961-F13 22.11.1961 Va LC-1-1 F Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 2 (Samos 5, St. Low 1) 1961 αλ 2 22.12.1961 Va LC-1-2 Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 3 (Samos 6, St. Low 2) 1962 η 3 07.03.1962 Va LC-1-2 Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 4 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 5 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 6 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 7 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 8 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Samos-E5 9 - cancelled Va Atlas-LV3 Agena-B
Further Samos missions: