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Samos
Part of WS-117 Family
Samos E-6
Samos E-6
Credit: Manufacturer Image
American military surveillance satellite. First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; program still partially classified, evidently due to embarrassment.

AKA: E. Status: Operational 1960. First Launch: 1960-10-11. Last Launch: 1962-11-11. Number: 17 . Gross mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb).

Samos satellites carried one of four payloads:

  • E-1 frame readout camera with 1.83 m focal length, 30 m ground resolution, and 161 km x 161 km frame coverage;
  • E-2 frame readout camera with 0.91 m focal length, 6 m ground resolution, and 27 km x 27 km frame coverage;
  • E-5 recoverable panoramic camera with 1.67 m focal length, 1.5 m ground resolution, and 98 km swath length;
  • E-6 recoverable panoramic camera with 0.7 m focal length, 2.4 m ground resolution, and 280 km swath width.
None of the satellite versions worked particularly well, in contrast to the success the CIA was having at the same time with its Corona project. SAMOS was quietly wound up without ever having produced any significant results.

Family: Military surveillance sat, Surveillance, Surveillance orbit. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: Atlas, Atlas Agena A, Atlas Agena B. Launch Sites: Vandenberg, Vandenberg SLC3W, Vandenberg SLC3E. Agency: USAF. More at: 4831, 4833, 4838, 6852, 13052, 13053, 13054, 13055, 13056. Bibliography: 126, 2, 278, 279, 6.


Photo Gallery

Samos F-1Samos F-1
Credit: Manufacturer Image


Samos E-5Samos E-5
Credit: Manufacturer Image


TRS 1TRS 1
Credit: Manufacturer Image



1959 September 18 - .
  • Headquarters USAF notified AFBMD that the Secretary of Defense, Neil H. McElroy, had approved the transfer of MIDAS (Missile Detection Alarm System) and SAMOS (Satellite and Missile Observation System - . Related Persons: , McElroy. Spacecraft: WS-117, Midas, Samos.

1959 September 23 - . LV Family: Polaris, Titan, Atlas, Thor, Jupiter, .
  • Once again, the Defense Department reorganized its space program. Primary responsibility for military space programs was assigned to the Air Force which was given control of all long-range missile and - . Spacecraft: WS-117, Transit, Midas, Samos.

    ARPA retained responsibility for advanced research on missile defense, solid propellants, and several other projects. Existing projects were reassigned to the military services from ARPA - MIDAS and SAMOS to the Air Force,the Transit navigation satellite to the Navy, and NOTUS to the Army. These reassignments were not immediately effective, but the move toward Air Force development, production, and launching of military space vehicles was quite clear.


1959 October 21 - .
  • Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy officially approved assignment of the MIDAS and SAMOS programs to the Air Force and ARDC. - . Related Persons: , McElroy. Spacecraft: WS-117, Midas, Samos.

1959 November 17 - .
  • Based on the 23 September decision, all Defense Department satellite and space vehicle programs were to be reassigned to the military services of primary interest. - . Spacecraft: WS-117, Midas, Samos.

    The Discoverer, MIDAS, and SAMOS programs were approved for transfer back to AFBMD from ARPA. All three programs were originally part of the WS 117L program that AFBMD had managed from inception in 1956 until the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) had assumed responsibility on 30 June 1958.


1960 October 11 - . 20:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A. FAILURE: Second stage failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Samos 1 - . Payload: Samos E-1 no. 1. Mass: 1,845 kg (4,067 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1960-10-11 . First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite..

1961 January 31 - . 20:21 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena A.
  • Samos 2 - . Payload: Samos E-1 no. 2. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1973-10-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 70 . COSPAR: 1961-Alpha-1. Apogee: 557 km (346 mi). Perigee: 474 km (294 mi). Inclination: 97.4000 deg. Period: 95.00 min.

    An Air Force Atlas D/Agena A was launched from Vandenberg and successfully placed the SAMOS II satellite into orbit. This was the last Air Force use of an Agena A upper stage vehicle. First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; micrometeoroid impact data. Poor results.


1961 September 9 - . 19:28 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. FAILURE: Exploded on launch pad.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Samos 3 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 1. Mass: 1,890 kg (4,160 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1961-09-09 . First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images..

1961 November 22 - . 20:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. FAILURE: Failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Samos 4 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 1. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1961-11-22 . Apogee: 200 km (120 mi). First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite..

1961 December 22 - . 19:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 5 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 2. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-01-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 218 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Lambda-2. Apogee: 310 km (190 mi). Perigee: 187 km (116 mi). Inclination: 89.6000 deg. Period: 89.40 min.

    First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite. Reached orbit but failed to deorbit and be recovered. In his memoirs Sergei Khrushchev recounts recovery of what he believed to be a recoverable Samos, except the date given is the winter before tests of this configuration actually started. He relates that a second American capsule was recovered in the spring of 1961. It was equipped with a 30 cm lens and 100ís of metres of 10 cm wide film. Also recovered were a pear-shaped module made of fibreglass, and an inertial orientation system powered by electric motors. It may have been a SAMOS prototype. The capsule was found by tractor drivers, who disassembled it and used the film to wrap around the frame of their outhouse to provide some privacy in the treeless area. Unfortunately this ruined the film, preventing the Russians from developing it and discovering the technical capabilities of the system.


1962 March 7 - . 22:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3E. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 6 - . Payload: Samos E-5 no. 3. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1963-06-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 259 . COSPAR: 1962-Eta-3. Apogee: 686 km (426 mi). Perigee: 236 km (146 mi). Inclination: 90.9000 deg. Period: 93.90 min. First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; SAMOS type satellite. Failed to return camera and film. Samos film return project cancelled; remaining 4 cameras placed in warehouse and later used on KH-6 Lanyard..

1962 April 26 - . 18:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 7 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 1 / Agena B 2401. Mass: 1,588 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-04-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 286 . COSPAR: 1962-Pi-1. Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2401 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-Pi-xx.

1962 June 17 - . 18:14 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 8 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 2 / Agena B 2402. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-06-18 . USAF Sat Cat: 307 . COSPAR: 1962-Psi-1. Apogee: 198 km (123 mi). Perigee: 198 km (123 mi). Inclination: 96.2000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2402 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-Psi-xx.

1962 July 18 - . 20:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 9 - . Payload: Samos E-2 no. 3 / Agena B 2403. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-07-25 . USAF Sat Cat: 342 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Zeta-1. Apogee: 234 km (145 mi). Perigee: 184 km (114 mi). Inclination: 96.0000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. First generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2403 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-07-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 343 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Zeta-2. Apogee: 215 km (133 mi). Perigee: 163 km (101 mi). Inclination: 96.1000 deg. Period: 88.30 min.

1962 August 5 - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 10 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 2 / Agena B 2404. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-08-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 361 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-2. Apogee: 203 km (126 mi). Perigee: 201 km (124 mi). Inclination: 96.2000 deg. Period: 88.50 min. Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results..
  • FTV 2404 - . Payload: AFP-201 PVP 854. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-08-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 361 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-1. Apogee: 203 km (126 mi). Perigee: 203 km (126 mi). Inclination: 96.3000 deg. Period: 88.50 min.
  • FTV 2404 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-A-Lambda-xx.

1962 November 11 - . 20:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B.
  • Samos 11 - . Payload: Samos E-6 no. 3 / TRS 1 / Agena B 2405. Mass: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. Decay Date: 1962-11-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 455 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Pi-1. Apogee: 292 km (181 mi). Perigee: 128 km (79 mi). Inclination: 96.0000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Second generation photo surveillance; radio relay of images; Satellite and Missile Observation Satellite. Poor results. SAMOS project cancelled..
  • FTV 2405 RV - . Payload: E-6 RV. Mass: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft Bus: WS-117. Spacecraft: Samos. COSPAR: 1962-B-Pi-xx.


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