Encyclopedia Astronautica
Misty


American nuclear detection surveillance satellite. 2 launches, 1990.02.28 (USA 53) to 1999.05.22 (USA 144).

The Misty stealth satellite originated as a countermeasure to Soviet efforts to conceal weapons development and suspected strategic missile treaty violations from known American reconnaissance satellites. The spacecraft was designed to be difficult to detect and be capable of large maneuvers in order to thwart Russian efforts to keep track of it. It would also have been difficult to locate and destroy the satellite in times of superpower war.

On 21 June 2007 Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell cancelled the multibillion-dollar spy satellite program, , known publicly as the next generation of "Misty" satellites. Engineers had hoped these spacecraft would someday pass undetected through the space above other nations.

McConnell gave no reason for his decision, saying only : "I have been advised when I was getting ready for this job, you have to do two things: kill a multibillion-dollar program. Just did that..and fire somebody important. So I'm searching," The satellite's true name was not publicly known, but it was believed to have been assigned a designation of a letter followed by numbers.

AKA: AFP-731.
First Launch: 1990.02.28.
Last Launch: 1999.05.22.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Shuttle The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. More...
  • Titan The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Titan American orbital launch vehicle. The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...
  • Shuttle American winged orbital launch vehicle. The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. Redesign of the shuttle with reliability in mind after the Challenger disaster reduced maximum payload to low earth orbit from 27,850 kg to 24,400 kg. More...
  • Titan 404B American orbital launch vehicle. Version of Titan 4B with no upper stage, configured for launch from Vandenberg. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC4E Titan, Atlas launch complex. First designated PALC2-4 and used to launch Atlas Agena D with KH-7 spysats. Rebuilt after MOL cancellation in 1970 to handle Titan 3D with KH-9 and KH-11 spysats. Upgraded in 1989-1990 for Titan 4. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC39A Shuttle, Saturn V launch complex. LC39A and LC39B, part of the Kennedy Space Center, were built on Merritt Island (north/northwest of the Cape) to support the Saturn V/Apollo lunar landing program. The sites were modified in the last half of the 1970s to support the manned Space Shuttle program. Construction began in December 1963. Complex 39A was completed on 4 October 1965. Complex 39A supported two unmanned and nine manned Saturn V/Apollo missions between 9 November 1967 and 8 December 1972. The site also supported the launch of the Skylab space station on 14 May 1973. Both complexes were modified to support Space Shuttle missions later on. Complex 39A supported the first Space Shuttle launch on 12 April 1981. More...

Misty Chronology


1990 February 28 - . 07:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-36R.
  • USA 53 - . Payload: KH-12 no. 1. Mass: 19,600 kg (43,200 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Misty. Decay Date: 1990-03-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 20516 . COSPAR: 1990-019B. Apogee: 207 km (128 mi). Perigee: 198 km (123 mi). Inclination: 62.0000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. Deployed from STS-36 February 28, 1990. Said to be designated 'Misty', and believed to be the first maneouvering stealth satellite. Barely visible, it was rediscovered by amateur observors in October 1990, with a ground track that repeated every nine days. It maneouvered again in early November 1990, changing its inclination by 1.2 degrees and entering a lower orbit with a three-day repeating ground track. Amateurs again found it in 1996 and 1997 in a 66.2 degree orbit with a 99.4 minute period. The decay date for the active satellite is believed to refer instead to debris; the actually satellite was probably deorbited after 1997, perhaps after USA 144 (Misty 2?) was put into operation.

1999 May 22 - . 09:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC4E. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 404B. LV Configuration: Titan 404B 4B-12.
  • USA 144 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Misty. USAF Sat Cat: 25744 . COSPAR: 1999-028A. Apogee: 3,100 km (1,900 mi). Perigee: 2,700 km (1,600 mi). Inclination: 63.5000 deg. This classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite represented the first successful Titan launch in four attempts. The payload had been reported to be a Lacrosse radar imaging reconnaissance satellite. However the short 50 foot Titan fairing was used instead of the 66 foot fairing used by Lacrosse. This only seems to be used previously for an Improved Crystal photo-reconnaissance satellite in November 1992. The payload therefore could be related to the ocean surveillance triplets, or be an Improved CRYSTAL derivative. Veteran amateur satellite-watchers believed it was the second launch of 'Misty', a stealthy optical reconnaisance satellite (the first launch being USA 53 in February 1990).

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