A

David

Darling

MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System)

MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System) was a largely-unsuccessful system of United States military early-warning satellites launched between 1960 and 1966; it preceded the IMEWS (Integrated Missile Early Warning Satellite) program. MIDAS spacecraft were designed to detect ballistic missile launches from low Earth orbit using infrared sensors. They represented one arm of the first American spaceborne reconnaissance (spy) system that also included Discoverer and Samos.

 

The first MIDAS satellite, launched in February 1960, failed to reach orbit. MIDAS 2, launched in May 1960, did achieve orbit to become the first infrared reconnaissance satellite but its telemetry system failed after two days. MIDAS 3, successfully launched in July 1961, also made it into orbit and was the heaviest American satellite up to that time. Altogether, there were 12 MIDAS launches deploying four different types of increasingly sophisticated sensors which paved the way for the development, launch, and use of IMEWS. Details of MIDAS became publicly available only on November 30, 1998, when the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center declassified the information.

 

spacecraft launch date launch vehicle launch site orbit
MIDAS 1 Feb 26, 1960 Atlas-Agena A Cape Canaveral launch failure
MIDAS 2 May 24, 1960 Atlas-Agena A Cape Canaveral 473 × 494 km × 33.0°
MIDAS 3 Jul 12, 1961 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg 3,343 × 3,540 km × 91.1°
MIDAS 4 Oct 21, 1961 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg 3,482 × 3,763 km × 95.9°
MIDAS 5 Apr 9, 1962 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg 2,784 × 3,405 km × 86.7°
MIDAS 6 Dec 17, 1962 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg launch failure
MIDAS 7 May 9, 1963 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg 3,607 × 3,676 km × 87.3°
MIDAS 8 Jun 13, 1963 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg launch failure
MIDAS 9 Jul 18, 1963 Atlas-Agena B Vandenberg 3,672 × 3,725 km × 88.4°
I. MIDAS 1 Jun 9, 1966 Atlas-Agena D Vandenberg 154 × 3,678 km × 90.0°
I. MIDAS 2 Aug 19, 1966 Atlas-Agena D Vandenberg 3,658 × 3,708 km × 89.7°
I. MIDAS 3 Oct 5, 1966 Atlas-Agena D Vandenberg 3,656 × 3,721 km × 90.0°