NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header

Discoverer 31



Discoverer 31 was a USAF photographic surveillance satellite designed to assess how rapidly the Soviet Union was producing long-range bombers and ballistic missiles, and where they were being deployed. It was part of the Corona program which was also used to produce maps and charts for the Department of Defense and other US government mapping programs.

The satellite used a film canister that was returned to earth in a capsule (a.k.a. bucket) for evaulation. These capsules were designed to be recovered by a specially equipped aircraft during parachute descent, but were also designed to float to permit recovery from the ocean. All film were black and white. Discoverer 31's film capsule recovery failed.

Alternate Names

  • 00186
  • 1961 Alpha Beta 1
  • Discoverer31
  • KH-3 9024

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1961-09-17
Launch Vehicle: Thor
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 1100 kg

Funding Agency

  • Department of Defense-Department of the Air Force (United States)


  • Surveillance and Other Military
  • Space Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
[] NASA Logo -