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The MIDAS 6 (MIssile Defense Alarm System) satellite was designed primarily to detect the exhaust heat from a recently launched ICBM by use of infrared sensors. A secondary objective was to eject 350 million copper needles into earth orbit (Project West Ford). The needles were to serve as an artificial scattering medium for radio signals in the centimeter band. The spacecraft was cylindrically shaped measuring approximately 6 m in length and 1.5 m in diameter. Once in orbit, the spacecraft was stabilized in a nose-down attitude so that the IR sensors and telemetry antenna were always facing earthward. The satellite continued in orbit until April 1977.

Alternate Names

  • 00574
  • Missile Defense Alarm System 6
  • West Ford (2)
  • MIDAS6

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1963-05-09
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B
Launch Site: Point Arguello, United States
Mass: 2000 kg

Funding Agency

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


  • Surveillance and Other Military
  • Space Physics

Additional Information

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



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