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The Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite (ARGOS) is part of the Air Force Space Test Program. ARGOS is the largest and most capable Air Force research and development satellite ever to fly. This heavy-weight satellite, weighing in at almost three tons, responds to the periodic need to fly Department of Defense payloads which cannot be flown on the space shuttle or small launch vehicles due to complexity, size and mission duration constraints. ARGOS has a goal of three years of on orbit operations to collect invaluable science data on the Earth's global environment for top priority military space programs. ARGOS is the Space Test Program's premiere development effort aimed at demonstrating the next step in a series of space technologies with applications well into the 21st century.

The ARGOS mission objective is to fly and operate advanced payloads, which include two technology demonstrations and seven experiments for global and celestial observation. These nine primary payloads contain over 30 research objectives, one of which prototypes sensor technology with applications for the International Space Station. On board ARGOS are high temperature superconductivity experiments which will provide important demonstrations for one of the nation's top 10 critical technologies.

The ARGOS satellite is the largest Space Test Program mission to date in both size and cost. It has a weight of 5,400 pounds and a total mission cost of $217 million, including the experiments, launch vehicle, operations, and support. ARGOS will fly in a 450 nautical mile circular sun synchronous orbit, with a 98.7 degree inclination. The satellite stabilization mode is a three axis Nadir pointing system.

ARGOS also provides a unique opportunity to fly three high-priority ultraviolet imaging experiments and an X-ray sensor on the same platform. Working simultaneously, results from these four experiments will be correlated to create a never before possible, three dimensional picture of weather in the ionosphere. The remaining experiments investigate electric propulsion, gas ionization physics, plume detection capabilities, and characterize orbital debris distribution in a highly populated low earth orbit. Carrying nine experiments, the ARGOS satellite can store up to 2.4 gigabits of technical information, and will down-link data at a rate of five megabits.

On-orbit mission control will be conducted by the Space and Missile Test & Evaluation Directorate Orbital Telemetry Tracking and Control Operations Division from the RDT&E Support Complex (RSC) at Kirtland AFB, NM. The RSC utilizes the Air Force Satellite Control Network to provide worldwide coverage. The ARGOS mission control force is a team of over 40 people, consisting of Air Force, Aerospace, and GD personnel. The team will provide continuous 24 hour a day support for the duration of the ARGOS mission.

Alternate Names

  • 25634
  • Advanced Research Global Observation Satellite

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1999-02-23
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States

Funding Agency

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


  • Surveillance and Other Military
  • Space Physics
  • Technology Applications
  • Engineering
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

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

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