OV1-08 PasComSat Grid-Sphere Satellite when inflated, showing plastic designed to later dissolve.
|Operator||US Air Force|
|Launch mass||10.4 kilograms (23 lb)|
|BOL mass||3.2 kilograms (7.1 lb)|
|Dimensions||9.1-meter (30 ft) sphere|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||14 July 1966, 02:10:02UTC|
|Rocket||Atlas D OV1|
|Launch site||Vandenberg ABRES B-3|
|Contractor||US Air Force|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||4 January 1978|
|Perigee altitude||955 kilometers (593 mi)|
|Apogee altitude||1,047 kilometers (651 mi)|
|Epoch||15 August 1966|
Passive Communications Satellite or PasComSat, also known as OV1-8, was a communications satellite launched by USAF in 1966 as part of the Orbiting Vehicle program. The satellite functioned as a reflector, not a transceiver, so that after it was placed in low earth orbit, a signal would be sent to it, reflected or bounced off its surface, and then returned to Earth.
The grid-sphere design as opposed to a fully covered sphere was aimed at reducing the effects of solar pressure and space drag found to be a problem during Project Echo. The USAF contracted with Goodyear Aerospace for construction of a 9 meters (30 ft) diameter grid-sphere balloon. It was made of a soft aluminum wire grid embedded in a special plastic designed to dissolve in space under the sun's strong ultraviolet rays. On July 13, 1966, the satellite payload was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, atop an Atlas rocket. It went into orbit and was automatically inflated with helium. The plastic covering soon dissolved, leaving an open aluminum structure orbiting the earth. Tests indicated that the satellite would remain in orbit for at least 11 years and that it had a reflective power five times greater than that of a solid sphere. The satellite decayed from orbit on January 4, 1978.