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Miranda (X 4)


The British Miranda satellite, also known as X-4, was an experimental spacecraft. It was designed to serve as an engineering test bed to check the application of a three-axis integrating gyro system for attitude control and a three-axis rate gyro system for rate control.

The satellite was in the form of a box 83.5 cm high, with a square base 66.5 cm on a side. Electrical power to the spacecraft was supplied from batteries and solar panels. When fully deployed the panels measured 250 cm in length. The payload package consisted of:

  • a three-axis propane gas jet system for orbital positioning;
  • a Canopus star sensor to determine reflectivity and interference generated from the propane gas system;
  • an Earth albedo sensor;
  • (radiation) test cells to measure degradation in orbit; and,
  • four infrared detectors to provide eclipse warning for experiment number two.

It was originally planned to be launched on the 5th british Black Arrow booster, but due to cancellation of the launcher program it was eventually launched by a Scout-D1.

Nation: UK
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE)
Contractors: Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, Ltd.
Configuration: Box with 2 solar arrays
Propulsion: three-axis propane gas jet system
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Mass: 92 kg
Orbit: 714 km × 916 km, 97.8
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Miranda (X 4) 1974-013A 09.03.1974 Va SLC-5 Scout-D1
Further X missions:

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