- Mercury (satellite)
MERCURY (sometimes called "Advanced VORTEX") is reportedly the name of a series of three United States spy satellites launched in the 1990s. These satellites were launched and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office with the participation of the United States Air Force. Two of the three launches from Cape Canaveral were successful. The satellites collect SIGINT from near-geosynchronous orbits. Their precise mission and capabilities are highly classified, but they are widely believed to be successors to the Vortex/Chalet satellites.
The last launch attempt, on 12 August 1998 failed and sent the USD $700–800 million satellite and the $344 million Titan IVA/Centaur launch vehicle into the Atlantic Ocean. The failure was caused by a short circuit in the guidance system, after which the Range Safety Officer ordered the destruction of the rocket. Observers estimate each spacecraft weighs 4000–5000 kg.
- ^ http://www.astronautix.com/articles/thelures.htm
- ^ Craig Covault and Joseph C. Anselmo (1998-08-17). "Titan explosion destroys secret 'Mercury' sigint". Aviation Week and Space Technology 149.
- Mercury 1 launched 27 Aug 1994 (USA-105) 1994-054A
- Mercury 2 launched 24 April 1996 (USA-118) 1996-026A
- Mercury 3 failed to launch 12 August 1998 1998-F02
- Mercury ELINT at Encyclopedia Astronautica
- Mercury/Advanced VORTEX from Federation of American Scientists
- Video of the launch and destruction
IMINTLACROSSE ·· SIGINT MASINTPrimary missionSecondary mission Research and
developmentPrimary missionMiTEx ·Secondary mission·
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