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Midcourse Sensor Experiment

msx logo MSX represents the first system demonstration in space of technology to identify and track ballistic missiles during their midcourse flight phase. The Sensor Technology Directorate of BMDO has overall responsibility of MSX. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) serves as systems engineer and technical advisor. JHU/APL developed, integrated, tested, launched and is operating the MSX spacecraft and several of its primary sensors. The MSX sensors are the first hyperspectral imagers flown in space and provide essential capabilities in identifying global change gases, including ozone and carbon dioxide, with capabilities heretofore unavailable in any currently flying or planned systems.

At 8:27 AM EST on 24 April 1996 the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) spacecraft was launched by a Delta rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA into a nominal circular orbit with an altitude of 908 km and an inclination of 99.6 degrees. The spacecraft separated from the booster at approximately 9:26 AM in the proper attitude, solar panels were extended, and full solar power was attained.

Insertion altitude is approximately 900km, in a high-inclination, circular, near-sun synchronous orbit. Mission design lifetime is 4 years, with the SPIRIT III infrared telescope limited by coolant supply to 18-20 months of operation. Approximately 50% of MSX's weight and power is allocated to instrument use. During its primary mission, or "cryogen" phase, MSX is designed to gather data on backgrounds and to detect and track test-ICBMs launched from the Western Test Range(WTR) and targeted at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the Pacific. Other targets include IRBMs launched from Barking Sands in Hawaii, satellites, and objects deployed from MSX itself. The "post-cryogen" phase will focus on the celestial and terrestrial backgrounds, surveillance demonstrations, and contamination and environmental research.

Designers of future operational space and ground-based surveillance and tracking systems require simultaneous, wideband optical data on midcourse missile flight, the trajectory phase between burnout and rentry. The precision MSX platform will collect that data over a wide-wavelength range during its long-duration mission, building on previous short-term SDI tests. MSX experiments will provide critical first-time observations of missile target signatures against Earth-limb, auroral, and celestial cluttered backgrounds.


MSX Instrument Section (92K)

MSX in Payload Processing Facility (65K)

MSX with APL Management Team (60K)

MSX in Launch Fairing (104K)

MSX on Delta II Booster (65K)

MSX Launch from Vandenburg (38K)

MSX Midcourse Space Experiment
The Midcourse Space Experiment addresses many Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) systems issues concerned with surveillance, acquisition, tracking, and target discrimination using infrared, visible, and ultraviolet passive sensors. The Sensor Technology Directorate (DTS) of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) has overall responsibility for MSX. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) serves as the system engineer and technical advisor.

Midcourse Space Experiment Data Management Home Page
MRC Geophysics and Information Technology Sector, Nashua NH -

Midcourse Space Experiment
Geophysics Directorate - The Phillips Laboratory/Geophysics Directorate at Hanscom AFB, MA, plays two major roles in the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX), a Ballistic Missile Defense Office (BMDO) satellite launched on 24 April 1996. The first role is management of the MSX Science Data System. The second role is its major part in the satellite's science mission.

Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX)
Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Space Science Division (SSD) Backgrounds Data Center (BDC). The Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) observatory is a Ballistic Missile Defense Organization project represents the first system demonstration of technology in space to identify and track ballistic missiles during their midcourse flight phase. The spacecraft features an advanced multispectral image capability to gather data on test targets and space background phenomena. The primary archives for MSX data will be at the Naval Research Laboratory.



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Updated Sunday, April 13, 1997