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OAO 1 was a solar-cell-powered satellite instrumented to make precision astronomical observations and to measure the absorption and emission characteristics of the stars, planets, nebulae, and the interplanetary and interstellar media from visible to gamma-ray regions. The stabilization system permitted three axes pointing accuracy of 1 arc minute after the star tracker acquired a guide star. The control system permitted an ultimate pointing accuracy of 0.1 arc second. OAO 1 was launched in a nominal nearly perfect circular orbit and operated as planned for the first 7 minutes after separation. Subsequent high voltage arcing and battery depletion caused the mission to be terminated as a failure after 20 orbits without activating the experiments. Major problems were attributed to a failure in the power supply system and to high voltage arcing in the star trackers.

Alternate Names

  • 02142
  • OAO1
  • Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 1
  • S 18

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1966-04-08
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena D
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 1769 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science (United States)


  • Astronomy

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Joseph PurcellProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center0
Dr. Nancy G. RomanProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters
Dr. James E. Kupperian, Jr.Project ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Selected References

  • Sargent, J., An Overview of the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, IEEE Trans. Geosci. Electron., GE-8, No. 4, 215-221, doi:10.1109/TGE.1970.271392, Oct. 1970.
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