SolRAD I, the first satellite in the SolRAD series
SolRAD I, the first satellite in the SolRAD series

NRL conceived the solar radiation (SolRAD) program in the late 1950s as a series of missions designed to permit long-term study of the effects of solar emissions on earth.

All of the SolRAD satellites were designed and built by the SED at NRL's Payload Processing Facility in Washington, D.C.

The SolRAD series was designed to provide continuous coverage of wavelength and intensity changes of solar radiation in the ultraviolet, soft X-ray, and hard X-ray ranges.

SolRAD X, the final satellite in the SolRAD series
SolRAD X, the final satellite in the SolRAD series

SolRAD I was launched in 1960 and SolRAD X, the final SolRAD mission, was launched in 1971.

The SolRAD series I, IV, and VI through X collected solar X-ray and ultraviolet data during numerous intervals in the years 1960 to 1973. The data consist of photon fluxes in various wavelength bands, recorded in tables, plots, and catalogs on microfiche and digital magnetic tapes. The instrumentation and quantity of data improved with succeeding spacecraft in the series.

SolRAD Launch History

Launch Date Launch Vehicle Useful Life Comments
22 June 1960 Thor Able Star 10 months First solar satellite
30 November 1960 Thor Able Star ------ Launch vehicle failed
29 June 1961 Thor Able Star 5 months Separation failed
24 January 1962 Thor Able Star ------ Launch vehicle failed
26 April 1962 Scout ------ Launch vehicle failed
15 June 1963 Thor Agena 67 days Orbit decayed
11 January 1964 Thor Agena 23 months Operation satisfactory
9 March 1965 Thor Agena 52 months Operation satisfactory
18 March 1966 Scout 24 months 50% satisfactory
5 March 1968 Scout 6 years Operation satisfactory
6 July 1971 Scout 7 years Operation satisfactory
14 March 1976 Titan IIIC 15 months Operation satisfactory
14 March 1976 Titan IIIC 40 months Operation satisfactory