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Magnum (satellite): Wikis


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Magnum is reportedly a code name for a class of SIGINT spy satellites operated by the National Reconnaissance Office for the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The program remains classified, and the information that exists in the open is speculative.

It is believed that two or three Magnum satellites were launched from space shuttle missions between 1985 and 1990: STS-51-C (1985), STS-33 (1989) and possibly from STS-38 (1990). The satellites reportedly have a mass of 2,200-2,700 kg, operating in near-geosynchronous orbits, using Inertial Upper Stages to get from the shuttle's orbit to geosynchronous.[1]

The Magnum satellites, built by TRW, are rumored to have large (estimated 100 m diameter)[2] umbrella-like reflecting dishes to collect RF signals from Earth. The Magnum/Orion satellites have replaced the older Rhyolite/Aquacade series of SIGINT satellites, and have been succeeded by the Mentor/Advanced Orion satellites.


  • Magnum 1, deployed from STS-51-C launched 24 January 1985, (COSPAR 1985-010B) (USA-8)
  • Magnum 2, deployed from STS-33 launched 23 November 1989,(COSPAR 1989-090B) (USA-48)
  • Magnum 3, deployed from STS-38 launched 15 November 1990,(COSPAR 1990-097B)(USA-67)(Some sources identify USA-67 as a SDS-2 military communications satellite)[3]


  1. ^ Jonathan's space report No. 369 (1998-08-22)
  2. ^ Spy satellites of the NSA (fr)
  3. ^ List of satellite launches from Jonathan's Space Report
  • Richelson, Jeffrey T. ed. U.S. Military Uses of Space, 1945-1991 Vol 1, Guide. National Security Archive. 1991.

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