Author Topic: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions  (Read 8617 times)

Offline Blackstar

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We don't have a thread here devoted to the space missions of the SDI program. We should have one, so I'm starting it.

I'll try to put SDI-related documents and reports in this thread. Feel free to do the same.

« Last Edit: 07/01/2023 01:19 am by Blackstar »

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #1 on: 07/01/2023 09:18 am »
Since the DELTA 180 article also addresses the "Midcourse Space Experiment" (MSX), which was ultimately launched in 1996, it is worth mentioning that the Air Force Research Lab actually carried out a Galactic Plane Survey, and published a catalog of astronomical sources identified, see attachment with some info on the MSX "Spatial InfraRed Imaging Telescope" (SPIRIT III). Their rationale for carrying out an astronomical survey was that bright infrared sources might confuse targeting sensors, hence better map their location and brightness.

They also advertised their survey at conferences, and handed out MSX mugs with an image of the survey - though 25 years clearly have taken their toll on my souvenir mug  ;)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midcourse_Space_Experiment

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #2 on: 07/01/2023 12:54 pm »
... and for context, here are the YouTube links to Reagan's pre-briefing announcement of SDI to "High Levels Defense officials", followed by his "Address to the Nation", both on March 23, 1983:

Any guess on the origin of the "aerial photographs" shown in his address?



Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #3 on: 07/01/2023 02:34 pm »

Any guess on the origin of the "aerial photographs" shown in his address?


SR-71. I have a vague recollection that it was a special flight ordered to gather imagery for this purpose.


Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #4 on: 07/02/2023 08:56 am »

Any guess on the origin of the "aerial photographs" shown in his address?


SR-71. I have a vague recollection that it was a special flight ordered to gather imagery for this purpose.
Thanks. I'd been wondering if the US still dared to fly U-2s over Cuba in the 1980s.

Reagan concludes the discussion of the "aerial photographs" with the teaser "I wish I could show you more without compromising our most sensitive intelligence sources and methods." This might indicate that satellites were watching the Caribbeans as well (two KH-11should have been operational in early 1983).

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #5 on: 07/03/2023 05:34 pm »
SDI chronology 1983 to 1988 by the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and a PBS/Forntline timeline of missile defense 1944 to 2002. Any other (official?) SDI histories or chronologies?

How many of the bilateral memoranda of understanding (with Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, UK, ...) resulted in space missions? There was STS-39 with SPAS-II IBSS doing the "Infrared Background Signature Survey". What else?

https://aerospace.org/sites/default/files/policy_archives/SDI%20Chronology%201983-88.pdf
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/missile/etc/cron.html

https://catalog.archives.gov/id/22572400

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #6 on: 07/03/2023 09:00 pm »
Here is a GAO report on the Zenith Star program. Zenith Star was a big laser satellite. It got canceled while still in development.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #7 on: 07/03/2023 09:05 pm »
A GAO report on the Homing Overlay Experiment. HOE was tested in 1983 and 1984 and the last test was successful. In 1993, information became available indicating that the Army made the target much more detectable in order to produce a successful test (i.e. they cheated). There were allegations that the Army had lied to Congress about this. The GAO report found that although there was a "deception" effort associated with the program, it did not happen for the fourth test.

As an aside, looking at the HOE entry on Wikipedia damaged my Zen. No, George Lucas did not sue Ronald Reagan over use of the Star Wars name, and the Wiki citation for that claim is about as solid as tomato soup.

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #8 on: 07/04/2023 04:58 am »
A GAO report on the Homing Overlay Experiment. HOE was tested in 1983 and 1984 and the last test was successful. In 1993, information became available indicating that the Army made the target much more detectable in order to produce a successful test (i.e. they cheated). There were allegations that the Army had lied to Congress about this. The GAO report found that although there was a "deception" effort associated with the program, it did not happen for the fourth test.
<...>
I'd guess the initial tests were more about getting the search, targeting, and interception techniques and algorithms tested and tuned. From the DELTA 180 article posted above:
"During the approval cycle, some cooperation by the target was requested to help ensure success of both the approval process and the intercept. The response was manifest in the form of a corner reflector that provided (as it turned out, very desirable) target enhancement."
and
"The primary original purpose of the Delta 180 Program was to understand the problems of tracking and guidance for a space intercept."

Edit: Another possibility is that adding "target enhancements", i.e. the (apparent) requirement of "cooperative targets", provided some level of plausible deniability when questioned by the Soviets if these tests were all in accordance with the ABM treaty (see attached excerpt from Matthew Bunn's "Foundation for the Future: The ABM Treaty and National Security", which discusses this issue in some detail.).

https://scholar.harvard.edu/matthew_bunn/publications/foundation-future-abm-treaty-and-national-security
« Last Edit: 07/04/2023 05:36 am by hoku »

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #9 on: 07/08/2023 01:21 pm »
I realise that I only have one book on SDI, the fascinating "Star Warriors" by William Broad-though you can't please 'em all: https://www.commentary.org/articles/gerald-steinberg/star-warriors-by-william-j-broad/- and I've only read one or two more, of which one based on Michael Charlton's interview series for the BBC "The Star Wars History" https://archive.org/details/fromdeterrenceto0000char/page/n167/mode/2up was by far the most memorable (because of its remrkable list of talking heads-see second and third grabs).

And I see this is mainly an official document and  report thread, so I'll repress the urge to chime in, except to mention the set of declassified/unclassified docs, originally collected as a microfich iirc, at https://archive.org/details/MilitaryInSpace/Space-001/

It spans a very long period from 50s to 90s iirc, and I think some of the OTA reports in it may be useful.

I suspect that as ever the intersections between programmes will be the most fertile areas for new hstory, see e.g. the attached AW&ST item from 1988.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2023 02:54 pm by LittleBird »

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #10 on: 07/10/2023 08:08 am »
While not an official report this 2003 history seminar on the UK's response to SDI is fascinating:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/assets/icbh-witness/sdi.pdf

Offline Jim

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #11 on: 07/10/2023 02:47 pm »
LACE/RME
Delta 180 VSE
Delta 182 TVE
Delta 183 Delta-Star
MSX
MSTI(s)
Starlab
Starbird
AFP-675 CIRRIS
SKIRT
CLEMENTINE


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #12 on: 07/10/2023 03:36 pm »
LACE/RME
Delta 180 VSE
Delta 182 TVE
Delta 183 Delta-Star
MSX
MSTI(s)
Starlab
Starbird
AFP-675 CIRRIS
SKIRT
CLEMENTINE



Thanks for that list. Should it include LOSAT-X?

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2700/1


Offline Jim

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #13 on: 07/10/2023 03:51 pm »
LACE/RME
Delta 180 VSE
Delta 182 TVE
Delta 183 Delta-Star
MSX
MSTI(s)
Starlab
Starbird
AFP-675 CIRRIS
SKIRT
CLEMENTINE



Thanks for that list. Should it include LOSAT-X?

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2700/1



I forgot about that one.

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #14 on: 07/11/2023 03:40 am »
... and for context, here are the YouTube links to Reagan's pre-briefing announcement of SDI to "High Levels Defense officials", followed by his "Address to the Nation", both on March 23, 1983:

Any guess on the origin of the "aerial photographs" shown in his address?



The aerial photographs of Cuba, Grenada, and Nicaragua you mention were taken by the SR-71 Blackbird in the early 1980s.

Offline Hog

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #15 on: 07/12/2023 02:32 pm »
... and for context, here are the YouTube links to Reagan's pre-briefing announcement of SDI to "High Levels Defense officials", followed by his "Address to the Nation", both on March 23, 1983:

Any guess on the origin of the "aerial photographs" shown in his address?


The aerial photographs of Cuba, Grenada, and Nicaragua you mention were taken by the SR-71 Blackbird in the early 1980s.
Same answer as Blackstar's post #3 of this very thread.  Did your post add value?? (I mean value to the forum, not your "post count" or "posts per day ratio" or whatever your usual necroposting motivations are.)
Paul

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #16 on: 07/13/2023 06:54 pm »
Monday evening I will have an article in The Space Review about the Delta 180 mission. That mission, also known as the Vector Sum Experiment, was launched in September 1986 and the interceptor spacecraft collided with the Delta II upper-stage in a head-on intercept. It also carried various sensors for imaging both the interceptor and a ground-launched rocket.

The mission was classified, but one week after the test, SDIO held a press conference and talked about it extensively. They released a lot of photos. Several of the photos I have were originally classified "Secret" and then have "Unclassified" stamped over them, which is kinda cool. Gives it a neat Cold War feeling.

There are some interesting questions about this mission. A big one I have is if the government would have gone public if the mission had failed. All the pre-mission information does not say anything about an actual interception, so they could have kept the mission goals secret if they had not done an intercept. In fact, if all they had done was gather sensor data, they still could have claimed that it was successful. That said, the mission was an amazing bit of systems engineering and management--it was less than two years from a "go" decision to the launch.

I have a lot of great photographs of hardware and the test during this experiment, but I'll only use about half of what I have for this article. I really wanted to write a well-illustrated article for Space Chronicle, which runs high-quality color photos, but I got tired with how BIS treats its writers. I may run something in Quest, but they don't do color photos, which is disappointing.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #17 on: 07/13/2023 07:00 pm »
While not an official report this 2003 history seminar on the UK's response to SDI is fascinating:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/assets/icbh-witness/sdi.pdf

Aaron Bateman's upcoming book is going to delve into this in greater detail. He has information on how Thatcher and her government responded to SDI. Naturally it was complicated. Thatcher was interested in cooperating for several reasons, not necessarily because she shared Reagan's vision for SDI. But maintaining a good relationship with the United States and access to American technology and particularly intelligence information was important to Thatcher.

Thatcher was much more in favor of cooperating with the United States on missile defense, but she had members of her government who were opposed and who actively sought to undermine her. A few weeks ago I heard a former UK scientist who was involved in the work say that he had been told by a senior government official to not do what the prime minister had ordered.

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #18 on: 07/13/2023 07:21 pm »
While not an official report this 2003 history seminar on the UK's response to SDI is fascinating:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/assets/icbh-witness/sdi.pdf

Aaron Bateman's upcoming book is going to delve into this in greater detail. He has information on how Thatcher and her government responded to SDI. Naturally it was complicated. Thatcher was interested in cooperating for several reasons, not necessarily because she shared Reagan's vision for SDI. But maintaining a good relationship with the United States and access to American technology and particularly intelligence information was important to Thatcher.

Thatcher was much more in favor of cooperating with the United States on missile defense, but she had members of her government who were opposed and who actively sought to undermine her. A few weeks ago I heard a former UK scientist who was involved in the work say that he had been told by a senior government official to not do what the prime minister had ordered.

I look forward to it. That 2003 seminar I linked to produced a proceedings book of about 100 pages which really does make fascinating reading. Particpants include Heseltine, Charles Powell, Roy Domett and numerous others whose names will mean somthing to Brits of a certain age. It was run by the doyen of strategy academics in the UK, Lawrence Freedman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Freedman

One intriguing vignette is that she was a keen reader of Aviation Week---one can almost hear that familiar voice saying "Now Gen Abrahamson, is it really true that you can ..." ?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #19 on: 07/17/2023 11:45 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4622/1

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 17, 2023

In September 1986, two American satellites smashed into each other high in the skies over the Pacific Ocean, creating a spectacular shower of sparks and streaks, and making a powerful statement. This was no accident, but a deliberate test as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—nicknamed “Star Wars” by opponents and the media—and one of the most impressive examples of rapid spacecraft development of the Cold War.

The mission was designated Delta 180, named after the vehicle number of the Delta II rocket that launched it into space. Although it was an incredible rapid engineering accomplishment—going from program start to successful space intercept in less than 18 months—it was also a project with substantial domestic and international political impact. Delta 180 was intended to silence critics of the Star Wars program in the United States, but also to provide negotiating ammunition before the Reykjavik Summit in October, where President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev met to discuss nuclear disarmament. The Reykjavik Summit ran into a significant stumbling block when Reagan refused Gorbachev’s demand to abandon SDI, raising the provocative question of whether Delta 180 had bolstered Reagan’s resolve, and maybe prevented him from achieving greater success at the summit.

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #20 on: 07/18/2023 02:04 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4622/1

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 17, 2023
<snip>
The program was named Vector Sum.
Isn't a codename supposed to obfuscate the purpose of a project? Who came up with the idea to choose Vector Sum, which is a most concise description of the function of an interceptor vehicle, for this (secret SDI) program?   8)

Offline Jim

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #21 on: 07/18/2023 02:22 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4622/1

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 17, 2023
<snip>
The program was named Vector Sum.
Isn't a codename supposed to obfuscate the purpose of a project? Who came up with the idea to choose Vector Sum, which is a most concise description of the function of an interceptor vehicle, for this (secret SDI) program?   8)

I believe it is not a real code word

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #22 on: 07/18/2023 04:16 pm »
Yes, I don't believe it was a code word. I think it was the APL internal name for the project. I don't have any declassified documents from the program itself, but it would not surprise me if SDIO always referred to it simply as Delta 180.

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #23 on: 07/18/2023 04:31 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4622/1

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 17, 2023
<snip>
The program was named Vector Sum.
Isn't a codename supposed to obfuscate the purpose of a project? Who came up with the idea to choose Vector Sum, which is a most concise description of the function of an interceptor vehicle, for this (secret SDI) program?   8)

I believe it is not a real code word
Thanks for the clarification! I guess it fits in with "Brilliant Eyes", "Brilliant Pebbles" and "Thrusted Vector" as a two-word descriptive moniker.

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #24 on: 07/18/2023 04:49 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4622/1

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, July 17, 2023
<snip>
What discussions about the test took place within the White House before and after the test, and how did they affect policy?
Somewhat surprising (at least to me) the official briefing by Lt Gen Abrahamson to the president on the "technically significant results" of Delta 180 (and plans for 181) did not take place before March 1987, i.e. 6+ months after the flight of Delta 180.

https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/public/digitallibrary/smof/cos/bakerhoward/box-004/40-27-6912132-004-022-2017.pdf

Edit: this briefing might have been in preparation of a meeting of Sec of State Shultz with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze in Moscow on April 14/15, 1987.
https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB238/russian/Final1987-04-14%20Gorbachev-Shultz.pdf
« Last Edit: 07/18/2023 05:00 pm by hoku »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #25 on: 07/18/2023 09:59 pm »
Somewhat surprising (at least to me) the official briefing by Lt Gen Abrahamson to the president on the "technically significant results" of Delta 180 (and plans for 181) did not take place before March 1987, i.e. 6+ months after the flight of Delta 180.

Reagan probably got a short briefing after the test. In addition to doing the interception, there were a lot of sensor observations. Crunching that data would have taken time. But he could have been told about the basics a week or two after the mission.

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #26 on: 07/19/2023 04:51 pm »
LACE/RME
Delta 180 VSE
Delta 182 TVE
Delta 183 Delta-Star
MSX
MSTI(s)
Starlab
Starbird
AFP-675 CIRRIS
SKIRT
CLEMENTINE



Thanks for that list. Should it include LOSAT-X?

https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2700/1



I forgot about that one.
"SDIO Data Center Overview" has a complete(?) list of experiments (including air and ground-based experiments/facilities) as of Jan 1991. The doc also has info on where the data were (or were to be) archived, and a few (badly scanned) pages with sample data.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #27 on: 07/20/2023 04:12 am »
"SDIO Data Center Overview" has a complete(?) list of experiments (including air and ground-based experiments/facilities) as of Jan 1991. The doc also has info on where the data were (or were to be) archived, and a few (badly scanned) pages with sample data.

Interesting discovery. That acronym list includes the Airborne Optical Adjunct, which was a weird name for a 767 modified with a laser. My memory is that AOA was really a tactical experimental platform, only good for shooting at small missiles in the atmosphere.

I seem to remember that the 767 sat in storage for many years before being scrapped. I also think it was a very early 767, maybe #2 or 3? So it's a shame that the airframe was not preserved.

Update: AOA was apparently modified from the prototype 767-200, so it was the very first 767, and it was scrapped.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_767


Photo attached.
« Last Edit: 07/20/2023 04:16 am by Blackstar »

Offline hoku

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #28 on: 09/11/2023 09:47 pm »
"History of the Space Based Laser (SBL) Concept Definition" - conference paper from 1991 with nice line drawings of the various concept phases.

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #29 on: 10/18/2023 06:52 am »
Does this thread include the 70s missions that were in some sense precursors to SDI and/or Space Domain Awareness but didn't fly ? [Edit: In absence of a no, I'll assume answer is yes ;-) ... So have now attached the docs as well.]

i) If so then here's Hysat, new to me but a nuclear powered space surveillance mission design from the mid 70s that evolved to the unflown SBSS. It was mentioned in a FAS page: https://spp.fas.org/military/program/track/overview.htm#N_28_

Quote
63428F Space Surveillance Technology SBSS

In fiscal year 1976, the Space Infrared Sensor Program and the early phases of the SBSS Program were initiated. During its conceptual phase, SBSS had been referred to as Deep Space Surveillance Satellite or Low Altitude Surveillance Satellite.(28)

The 1977 Hysat Study, a part of the Deep Space Surveillance System program (DSSS), was sponsored by the USAF Space & Missile Systems Organization. Fairchild investigated the applicability of nuclear radioisotope heat sources for this mission. The rather sizable electrical power requirement (1500-3500 watts (e)) is provided by rollup solar arrays, alongside or atop the spacecraft, and attached to the upper body.(29)

The Space Based Surveillance System (SBSS) concept, which called for the deployment of four satellites in equatorial orbits at an altitude of 1100 kilometers, with the possibility of additional satellites in inclined orbits for polar coverage. The satellites were to be launched by the Shuttle using the Inertial Upper Stage, and have a design life of five years.


The Fairchild study that draws on earlier GE Rockwell and Hughes work is here: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/07/268/7268806.pdf

The GAO's assessment of where it subsequently went is here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/nsiad-86-45s-17.pdf

ii) If not then where should I move this to ? One of the Teal Ruby threads ?

« Last Edit: 10/19/2023 06:09 am by LittleBird »

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #30 on: 10/22/2023 06:49 pm »
Here's what seems to me at least to be an interesting link  between Hysat/DSSS and  hoku's post above about MSX and the early days of infrared astronomy in space: https://users.physics.unc.edu/~gcsloan/library/2012/price/price08.pdf

Quote
In the late 1960s, ARPA and the Air Force SAMSO had very ambitious goals for space-
based infrared surveillance
and a succession of Air Force company grade officers pushed the
technology and flight tests. At ARPA, Maj. Bob Paulson provided Project 1366 funds to
SAMSO for the Autonetics Stellar Radiation Sensor and the Hughes HI STAR telescopes and to
AFCRL to fly them. At SAMSO, Capt. Ted Jenks directed the Autonetics SRS effort while
Capt. Bill Crabtree did the same for the Hughes HI STAR sensors. The SRS and HI STAR
provided the technical demonstration for the first proposed operational infrared surveillance
system, the Deep Space Surveillance System (DSSS), which was to fly by the end of the 1970’s.
However, a satellite demonstration was needed and SAMSO took the initial steps in 1971 by
flying two celestial mapping satellites.
The Autonetics Celestial InfraRed Mapper (CIRM) was
an analog of the SRS except that it had a two color infrared focal plane and was cooled by a large
super-critical helium cryostat. This experiment was launched on 6 June 1971 and surveyed 38%
of the sky during its brief 138 minute mission. Unfortunately, cross-talk from the attitude
control system into the sensor electronics limited the observations to the very brightest infrared
sources. The Hughes HI STAR class Celestial Mapping Program (CMP) instrument was inserted
into a sun-synchronous 793 km altitude circular orbit on 17 October 1971 on what was planned
to be a long duration experiment as the sensor was cooled by a closed cycle Viulleumier cooler.
However, two problems arose that compromised performance and lifetime. A higher priority
experiment on the payload required that the satellite be oriented such that the CMP sensor
scanned parallel to the Earth’s horizon rather than through the zenith as preferred. The photon
background from off-axis Earth radiation in that configuration reduced sensitivity. The high
priority package was to operate for the first several weeks and then emphasis was to shift to
CMP and zenith scans. Unfortunately, the cryocooler flex lines across the scan gimbal began to
leak after two weeks in orbit and CMP only obtained three orbits of data early in the mission.
Although SAMSO considered CIRM and CMP as failures and the problems with the CMP
cryocooler put a taint on mechanical low temperature coolers that lasted for decades, CMP did
obtain redundant coverage in two infrared spectral bands on about as much sky (82%) as HI
STAR and HI STAR South combined and demonstrated the feasibility of infrared space-based
surveillance from an orbital platform. Holman, Smith and Autio (1976) also used the CMP data
to demonstrate that particle radiation was not an insurmountable barrier to space-based infrared
astronomy missions (see also McCarthy and Autio, 1978).

To me one interesting aspect is how much "iceberg" there was already "underwater", i.e. pre existing R&D in the 70s and 80s *before* Reagan's speech. Bears on the question of the balance between Teller and co's X ray lasers, and other technologies which may have actually been both more mature and far more consequential.

« Last Edit: 10/23/2023 02:04 pm by LittleBird »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #31 on: 10/22/2023 09:49 pm »
To me one interesting aspect is how much "iceberg" there was already "underwater, i.e. pre existing R&D in the 70s and 80s *before* Reagan's speech. Bears on the question of the balance between Teller and co's X ray lasers, and other technologies which may have actually been both more mature and far more consequential.

I think that uncovering this would be really difficult. You'd have to go deep into the technical literature and understand it, and do a lot of interviews to figure out how the improvements in sensor technology happened. And a lot of that stuff would be classified. It might be doable for somebody working inside the field, like a DoD historian. It could be interesting stuff, but it's probably a topic that is never going to be really explored for that reason.

Online LittleBird

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Re: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) space missions
« Reply #32 on: 10/23/2023 12:01 pm »
To me one interesting aspect is how much "iceberg" there was already "underwater", i.e. pre existing R&D in the 70s and 80s *before* Reagan's speech. Bears on the question of the balance between Teller and co's X ray lasers, and other technologies which may have actually been both more mature and far more consequential.

I think that uncovering this would be really difficult. You'd have to go deep into the technical literature and understand it, and do a lot of interviews to figure out how the improvements in sensor technology happened. And a lot of that stuff would be classified. It might be doable for somebody working inside the field, like a DoD historian. It could be interesting stuff, but it's probably a topic that is never going to be really explored for that reason.

Indeed, but my ambitions are really much more limited-perhaps I gave the wrong impression. I think underwater was a poor choice of words, I think I meant invisible to the general public rather than classified.

 I'd just like to read the stuff which is already out there e.g. the above memoir by Price or the 3 volume ARPA history that includes some of their SDI stuff iirc. And I'm only really interested in the science and tech that was never classified (or classifiable) e.g. that which really just needs an understanding of Stefan-Boltzmann law, or optics, or ...

« Last Edit: 10/23/2023 02:04 pm by LittleBird »

Tags: sdi reagan sr-71 
 

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