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The objectives of the OSO satellite series were to perform solar physics experiments above the atmosphere during a complete solar cycle and to map the celestial sphere for direction and intensity of UV light, X-rays, and gamma radiation. The OSO 1 was the first satellite to have pointed instruments and onboard tape recorders for data storage. The OSO 1 platform consisted of a sail section, which pointed two experiments continuously toward the sun, supplying power to the experiments from the solar batteries and rechargeable chemical batteries; and a wheel section, which spun about an axis perpendicular to the pointing direction of the sail and carried seven experiments. Attitude adjustment was performed by gas jets. Data were simultaneously recorded on tape and transmitted by FM telemetry. A command system provided for 10 ground-based commands. The spacecraft performed normally until the second onboard tape recorder failed May 15, 1962. The spacecraft provided real-time data until May 1964, when the power cells failed. For more information, see A. W. L. Ball, Spaceflight, v. 12, p. 244, 1970.

Alternate Names

  • S 16
  • 00255
  • 1962 Zeta 1
  • OSO-A
  • OSO1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1962-03-07
Launch Vehicle: Thor-Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 207.7 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science
  • Space Physics
  • Solar Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. H. Kent Hills



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. John C. LindsayProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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