Advanced Vela

Like its predecessor, Vela, the Advanced Vela series of spacecraft was designed to monitor worldwide compliance with the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty. The Advanced series added the capability to detect atmospheric nuclear detonation. Additionally, it monitored solar activity (providing radiation warnings for manned missions), terrestrial lightning activity, and celestial X-ray and gamma-ray radiation. All six spacecraft operated for more than 10 years – the last pair, Vela 11 and Vela 12, continuing to function well into the 1980s. Their nuclear detection role was taken over by IMEWS in the 1970s. Vela was touted as the longest continuously operating space system in 1985 when the Air Force shut down the last three craft.


spacecraft launch date
Vela 7 Apr 28, 1967
Vela 8 "
Vela 9 May 23, 1969
Vela 10 "
Vela 11 Apr 8, 1970
Vela 12 "