Heritage

The Space Systems Development Department (SSDD) has built and launched over 87 satellites since 1960. The following list describes some of SSDD's previous programs.

  • GRAB. The Galactic Radiation and Background (GRAB) experiment was the world's first reconnaissance satellite. Originally proposed by NRL in 1958, GRAB became operational in 1960 and was operated until 1962.
  • Clementine. This advanced technology demonstration program space-qualified 23 new technologies and mapped 100% of the lunar surface with greater than 99% coverage in 11 spectral bands.
  • LACE. The Low-power Atmospheric Compensation Experiment (LACE) proved that techniques to compensate for atmospheric distortion of laser beams actually work. The Ultraviolet Plume Instrument (UVPI) on board LACE succeeded on all four of its opportunities to make video images of the UV emission from rocket plumes.
  • LIPS. The Living Plume Shield (LIPS) series of satellites provided an inexpensive on orbit test bed for technology demonstrations.
  • NTS. NRL's Navigational Technology Satellites (NTS) were the prototypes and forerunners of the Global Positioning System (GPS). The concept of using a constellation of satellites with highly accurate clocks in conjunction with ground based passive receivers for precise three dimensional (latitude, longitude, and altitude) location was conceived by NRL in 1964 and demonstrated in 1967.
  • SolRAD. The solar radiation (SolRAD) program was conceived in the late 1950s as a series of missions designed to permit long-term study of the effects of solar emissions on earth. SolRAD I was launched in 1960 and SolRAD X, the final SolRAD mission, was launched in 1971.
  • Vanguard. In July 1955 President Eisenhower announced that the United States would begin Project Vanguard to send a satellite into orbit. NRL was given the responsibility of developing the launch vehicles; developing and installing the satellite tracking system; and designing, constructing, and testing the satellites. On March 15, 1958, Vanguard I became the country's second satellite in space.
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