RAND's Role in the Evolution of Balloon and Satellite Observation Systems and Related U.S. Space Technology

by Merton E. Davies, William R. Harris

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This history commemorates the 40th anniversary of The RAND Corporation, 1948-1988. RAND research studies aided in development of concepts, system requirements, and development programs for space satellites operational in the 1960s. RAND research in 1946-1954 emphasized reconnaissance missions for balloons and electro-optical (TV) reconnaissance satellites with data relay. Thereafter, RAND proposed use of recoverable, film-storage satellite payloads with simple guidance systems so that reconnaissance satellites could aid in arms control verification when intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were deployed. In the 1950s, RAND space technology studies dealt with scientific exploration of the moon and solar system, satellites for weather forecasting and for mapping, missile launch detection, and technology applications for the civil space program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Innovative studies of balloon reconnaissance platforms, ICBMs, uses of panoramic cameras for remote observation of earth, and use of infrared satellites for missile launch warning resulted from researcher-initiated studies.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

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