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MSX (Midcourse Space Experiment) demonstrated different multispectral imaging technologies to identify and track ballistic missiles during flight by observing rocket launches and orbital debris. Additionally it measured the composition and dynamics of the Earth's atmosphere by observing ozone, chloroflourocarbons, carbon dioxide and methane.

MSX contained a number of experiments for BMDO:

  • SPIRIT III (Space Infrared Imaging Telescope)
  • UVISI (Ultraviolet and Visible Imagers and Spectrographic Imagers)
  • SBV (Space-Based Visible instrument)
  • OSDP (On-board Signal and Data Processor)
  • deployable reference objects (2 cm spheres)

MSX was expected to cease operations when it ran out of coolant in 1997. However the visible light sensor, Space-Based Visible (SBV), was still operable since it did not need to be kept at cryogenic temperatures. MSX was used for an extended mission, during which it was used to track satellites and debris in and close to geosynchronous orbit. The satellite ceased operations in June 2008 following the failure of the SBV instrument.

MSX was originally planned to fly on a Titan-2S booster, but was later reassigned to a Delta-7920-10 launch vehicle.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: SDI / BMD Experiments
Operator: BMDO (formerly SDIO)
Contractors: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
Equipment: SPIRIT III, UVSI, SBV, OSDP, deployable reference objects
Configuration: 3-Axis stabilized bus, 2 solar panels
Propulsion: ?
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 1 year planned, 12 years reached
Mass: 2700 kg
Orbit: 897 km × 907 km, 99.4
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
MSX 1996-024A 24.04.1996 Va SLC-2W Delta-7920-10


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