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Rhyolite
American military signals intelligence satellite. ELINT satellite built by TRW, E-Systems for USAF, USA. Launched 1970 - 1978.

AKA: Aquacade;Program 472;Program 720. Status: Operational 1970. First Launch: 1970-06-19. Last Launch: 1978-04-07. Number: 4 . Gross mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb).

Rhyolite geostationary signals intelligence satellites were positioned to intercept communications transmissions, especially line-of-sight microwave links, from the Soviet Union and China. For this purpose they were stationed in geosynchronous orbits over Indonesia. Other sources indicate that the primary mission was telemetry interception.

The project became unusually public as it was the key element in the espionage trial of the 'Falcon and the Snowman', Boyce and Lee. Rhyolite was also known as Program 720, Program 472, and Aquacade.

The primary downlink station was named Pine Gap, in isolated Alice Springs, Australia. This was to prevent Soviet or Chinese spies from intercepting the interceptions ... and then being able to determine which of their communications were being listened to. The signal streams received at Pine Gap would be encrypted, then beamed via another geosynchronous satellite to Fort Meade for code breaking and signal and traffic analysis.


More at: Rhyolite.

Family: Medium earth orbit, Military naval signals reconnsat, SIGINT, Surveillance. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: Atlas, Atlas SLV-3A Agena D. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC13. Agency: USAF. Bibliography: 172, 2, 278, 6, 6823, 13023.

1970 June 19 - . 11:37 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas SLV-3A Agena D.
  • OPS 5346 - . Payload: AFP-720 Rhyolite 1. Mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: CIA, NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: ELINT. Spacecraft: Rhyolite. USAF Sat Cat: 4418 . COSPAR: 1970-046A. Apogee: 33,685 km (20,930 mi). Perigee: 178 km (110 mi). Inclination: 28.2000 deg. Period: 588.90 min. First launch of Rhyolite geostationary ELINT satellite. Reportedly left in transfer orbit; other sources indicate a successful mission. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean..

1973 March 6 - . 09:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas SLV-3A Agena D.
  • OPS 6063 - . Payload: AFP-720 Rhyolite 2. Mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: CIA, NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: ELINT. Spacecraft: Rhyolite. USAF Sat Cat: 6380 . COSPAR: 1973-013A. Apogee: 35,855 km (22,279 mi). Perigee: 35,679 km (22,169 mi). Inclination: 0.2000 deg. Period: 1,435.10 min. Second launch of Rhyolite geostationary ELINT satellite..

1977 December 11 - . 22:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas SLV-3A Agena D.
  • OPS 4258 - . Payload: AFP-472 AQUACADE 3. Mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: CIA, NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: ELINT. Spacecraft: Rhyolite. USAF Sat Cat: 10508 . COSPAR: 1977-114A. Apogee: 35,855 km (22,279 mi). Perigee: 35,679 km (22,169 mi). Inclination: 0.2000 deg. Period: 1,435.10 min. Third launch of Rhyolite geostationary ELINT satellite. Code name changed to Aquacade after Rhyolite name came out in trial of spy Boyce..

1978 April 7 - . 00:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas SLV-3A Agena D.
  • OPS 8790 - . Payload: AFP-472 AQUACADE 4. Mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: CIA, NRO. Class: Surveillance. Type: ELINT. Spacecraft: Rhyolite. USAF Sat Cat: 10787 . COSPAR: 1978-038A. Apogee: 35,855 km (22,279 mi). Perigee: 35,679 km (22,169 mi). Inclination: 0.2000 deg. Period: 1,435.10 min. Fourth and final launch of Rhyolite geostationary ELINT satellite. Code name changed to Aquacade after Rhyolite name came out in trial of spy Boyce..


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