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Alouette 1



Alouette 1 was a small ionospheric observatory instrumented with an ionospheric sounder, a VLF receiver, an energetic particle detector, and a cosmic noise experiment. Extended from the satellite shell were two dipole antennas (45.7 m and 22.8 m long, respectively) which were shared by three of the experiments on the spacecraft. The satellite was spin-stabilized at about 1.4 rpm after antenna extension.

After about 500 days, the spin slowed more than had been expected, to about 0.6 rpm when satellite spin-stabilization failed. It is believed that the satellite gradually progressed toward a gravity gradient stabilization with the longer antenna pointing earthward. Attitude information was deduced only from a single magnetometer and temperature measurements on the upper and lower heat shields. Attitude determination could have been in error by as much as 10 degrees.

There was no tape recorder, so data were available only from the vicinity of telemetry stations. Telemetry stations were located to provide primary data coverage near the 80 degree W meridian and in areas near Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, Europe, and Central Africa. Initially, data were recorded for about six hours per day.

In September 1972, spacecraft operations were terminated. A data restoration effort began in the late nineties and successfully saved a considerable portion of the high-resolution data before the telemetry tapes were discarded. More information about this effort and access to the data on CDAWeb be found at

Alternate Names

  • S 27
  • Alouette-A
  • S 27A
  • 1962 Beta Alpha 1
  • 00424
  • Alouette1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1962-09-29
Launch Vehicle: Thrust Augmented Thor-Agena B
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 145.7 kg

Funding Agencies

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)
  • Defence Research Board-Defence Research Telecommunications Establishme (Canada)


  • Space Physics
  • Solar Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. J. S. JohnsonProgram ManagerDepartment of Communications/Communications Research Centre
Dr. Eldon S. WarrenProject ScientistDepartment of Communications/Communications Research Centre
Mr. Frank W. GaetanoProgram ManagerNASA Headquarters
Mr. R. Keith BrownProject ManagerDefence Research Board - Defence Research Telecommuncations Establish
Dr. Erwin R. SchmerlingProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters
Dr. John H. ChapmanProgram ScientistDepartment of Communications/Communications Research Centre
Dr. J. H. WhittekerGeneral ContactDepartment of Communications/Communications Research Centre
Dr. C. A. FranklinProject EngineerDepartment of Communications/Communications Research Centre
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