Canyon (satellite)

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Canyon was a series of seven United States spy satellites launched between 1968 and 1977.[1] Also known by its SIGAD as AFP-827,[2][3] the satellites were developed with the participation of the Air Force. The Canyon project is credited as being the first American satellite system tasked for COMINT.[4]

The satellites each had a mass of 700 kg and were launched from Atlas/Agena D rockets into near-geosynchronous orbits. They carried large parabolic reflecting dishes, estimated at 10m in diameter. The Canyon satellites were eventually replaced with the next generation of COMINT satellites, the Vortex/Chalet series. The program is still classified.

Seven Canyon satellites were launched from 1968 to 1977, all with Atlas Agena D vehicles from LC-13 at Cape Canaveral and there was one failure in 1971. The first four Canyons apparently remained attached to the Agena after achieving orbit, using its engine for maneuvering (the missions would have been concluded after Agena propellant depletion). Later Canyons were reputedly larger in size and did separate from the booster.[5]

List of Launches[edit]

Name COSPAR ID
SATCAT №
Launch date
(UTC)
Launch vehicle Launch site Orbit Remarks
OPS 2222 1968-063A
03334
6 August 1968
11:08
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13
OPS 3148 1969-036A
03889
13 April 1969
02:30
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13
OPS 7329 1970-069A
04510
1 September 1970
01:00
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13
Unnamed N/A 4 December 1971
22:33
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13 N/A Failed to achieve orbit. Atlas guidance error following booster engine staging.
OPS 9390 1972-101A
06317
20 December 1972
22:20
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13
OPS 4966 1975-055A
07963
18 June 1975
09:00:00
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13
OPS 9751 1977-038A
10016
23 May 1977
18:13:00
Atlas SLV-3A Agena-D CCAFS LC-13

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jonathan's space update No. 369 (1998-08-22) Lists U.S. SIGINT launches
  2. ^ Jonathan's space report No. 501 (2003-06-06) Speculation on the CANYON launches
  3. ^ "CANYON – SIGINT Spacecraft Series – ( NRO/USAF/NSA Program AFP-827)". 2007-06-28. Retrieved 06-11-2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ Richelson, Jeffrey T. ed. U.S. Military Uses of Space, 1945-1991 Vol 1, Guide. National Security Archive. 1991.
  5. ^ http://www.astronautix.com/craft/canyon.htm

External links[edit]