Work on GRAB began in 1958, around the time of the first successful Vanguard launch. Reid Meyo of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Countermeasures Branch had developed an electronic intelligence antenna for submarine periscopes. NRL was seeking quick military exploitation of the Vanguard satellite it had developed and it occurred to Reid that the NRL could simply put his periscope antenna into orbit aboard a Vanguard. The original calculations behind this idea were done, in the best tradition of aerospace engineering, on a restaurant placemat.
From 800 km above the Earth, a GRAB satellite's circular orbit passed it through the beams from Soviet radar whose pulses traveled beyond the horizon into space. GRAB's task was to receive each radar pulse in a certain bandwidth and transpond a corresponding signal to collection huts at ground sites within GRAB's field of view. Operators in the huts recorded the transponded data and couriered it to NRL for evaluation.
Related categories MILITARY RECONNAISSANCE AND SURVEILLANCE
SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
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