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Advanced Vela
Vela 7
Vela 7
Credit: Manufacturer Image
American nuclear detection surveillance satellite.

Status: Operational 1967. First Launch: 1967-04-28. Last Launch: 1970-04-08. Number: 6 . Gross mass: 317 kg (698 lb).

Like its predecessor, the Vela (meaning "watchman" in Spanish) , the Advanced Vela series of spacecraft were designed to monitor world-wide compliance with the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty.

The Vela Nuclear Detection Satellites were launched in pairs into high altitude orbits to detect possible nuclear explosions in space and on earth. The original Vela satellites were so successful, each operating for at least 5 years, that a planned acquisition of a fourth and fifth set of pairs was cancelled. Instead, TRW was awarded a further contract in March 1965 for an Advanced Vela spacecraft series. The Advanced series added atmospheric nuclear detonation detection to its capabilities. Additionally, it monitored solar activity (providing radiation warnings for manned missions), terrestrial lightning activity and celestial X/gamma-ray radiation. The project was directed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense; the USAF Space and Missile Systems organization was responsible for the development of the-spacecraft. Prime Contractor was TRW Systems Group of TRW Inc. The first of a pair of Advanced Velas was launched in April 1967. All six spacecraft operated for more than 10 years. Their nuclear detection role was assumed by IMEWS in the 1970s. Touted as the longest continuously operating space system in 1985 when USAF shut down the last 3 spacecraft.

The spacecraft used the first dual-spin, zero momentum attitude control system. In launch configuration, two 26-sided polyhedron spacecraft were connected by a central cylinder containing an apogee motor. Body mounted solar cells generated 120 watts. Advanced Velas were 26-sided polygons 1.42 m in diameter and 1.17 m high, weighed 231 kg in orbit. Total payload mass was 63 kg. Two optical bhangmeters observed the Earth. Twelve external X-ray detectors and 18 internal neutron and gamma-ray detectors detected high-altitude or space nuclear explosions.


More at: Vela adv.

Family: High earth orbit, Nuclear detection surveillance satellite, Surveillance. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: Titan, Titan IIIC. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC40, Cape Canaveral LC41. Agency: USAF, TRW. Bibliography: 2, 405, 6, 12027.

1965 March - .
  • TRW awarded contract for the Advanced Vela spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. The Advanced series added atmospheric nuclear detonation detection to its capabilities. Additionally, it monitored solar activity, terrestrial lightning, and celestial X/gamma-ray radiation..

1967 April 28 - . 10:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan IIIC.
  • Vela 7 - . Payload: Vela 4A / OPS 6638. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. USAF Sat Cat: 2765 . COSPAR: 1967-040A. Apogee: 112,627 km (69,983 mi). Perigee: 108,948 km (67,697 mi). Inclination: 32.1000 deg. Period: 6,652.10 min.

    Two new and heavier Vela Nuclear Detection Satellites and three scientific satellites were placed in orbit by a Titan IIIC (Vehicle #10) launched from Cape Canaveral. The two Vela satellites joined six other Vela spacecraft already on sentry duty 69,000 miles above the earth. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A).

  • Vela 8 - . Payload: Vela 4B / OPS 6679. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. USAF Sat Cat: 2766 . COSPAR: 1967-040B. Apogee: 114,578 km (71,195 mi). Perigee: 107,372 km (66,717 mi). Inclination: 33.1000 deg. Period: 6,668.10 min.

    Two new and heavier Vela Nuclear Detection Satellites and three scientific satellites were placed in orbit by a Titan IIIC (Vehicle #10) launched from Cape Canaveral. The two Vela satellites joined six other Vela spacecraft already on sentry duty 69,000 miles above the earth. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A).


1969 May 23 - . 07:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan IIIC.
  • Vela 10 - . Payload: Vela 5B / OPS 6911. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. Decay Date: 1992-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 3955 . COSPAR: 1969-046E. Apogee: 150,633 km (93,598 mi). Perigee: 72,080 km (44,780 mi). Inclination: 61.0000 deg. Period: 6,700.70 min.

    The 13th, and final, Titan IIIC research and development booster (Vehicle #15) lifted two Vela satellites, the fifth pair of such nuclear detection spacecraft, and three experimental satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral. This launch concluded the highly successful Titan III research and development program initiated in 1962. Out of 13 Titan IIIC and four Titan IITA vehicles launched, 10 Titan IITCs were complete successes, two were partial successes, and only one was a failure, while three of the four Titan IITA launches were rated successful. Radiation, low-energy particle, solar flare data. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A).

  • Vela 9 - . Payload: Vela 5A / OPS 6909. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. Decay Date: 1992-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 3954 . COSPAR: 1969-046D. Apogee: 145,638 km (90,495 mi). Perigee: 77,082 km (47,896 mi). Inclination: 61.6000 deg. Period: 6,700.90 min. Solar flare particle detectors. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). .

1970 April 8 - . 10:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan IIIC.
  • Vela 12 - . Payload: Vela 6A / OPS 7044. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. Decay Date: 1992-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 4366 . COSPAR: 1970-027A. Apogee: 121,227 km (75,326 mi). Perigee: 101,261 km (62,920 mi). Inclination: 61.2000 deg. Period: 6,691.00 min. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A)..
  • Vela 11 - . Payload: Vela 6B / OPS 7033. Mass: 317 kg (698 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Nuclear detection surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Advanced Vela. Decay Date: 1992-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 4368 . COSPAR: 1970-027B. Apogee: 119,313 km (74,137 mi). Perigee: 103,570 km (64,350 mi). Inclination: 57.4000 deg. Period: 6,707.90 min. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A)..


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