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The MIDAS 1 (Missile Defense Alarm System) satellite was designed to detect the exhaust heat from a recently launched ICBM by use of infrared sensors. Secondary objectives included the measurement of cosmic radiation, the determination of upper atmospheric density, and micrometeoroid detection. The spacecraft was cylindrical in shape and measured approximately 6 m in length and 1.5 m in diameter. The sensors and communication subsystem were chemical-battery-powered. The experiments were never activated because MIDAS 1 failed to achieve its planned polar orbit when the second stage failed to separate. The satellite flew 4500 km before burning up in reentry.

Alternate Names

    Facts in Brief

    Launch Date: 1960-02-26
    Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena A
    Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
    Mass: 2045 kg

    Funding Agency

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


    • Surveillance and Other Military
    • Space Physics
    • Astronomy

    Additional Information

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

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