As World Spacecraft Digest is essentially a history document which may be consulted by readers at various points in time in the future, the author decided to use the past tense in all instances, even though a spacecraft might still be in orbit and operational. There are a few obvious exceptions to this convention.

The spacecraft are listed, in the first instance, in the order of their International Designation, resulting in, with some exceptions, a date order. Spacecraft which did not receive an International Designation, being those spacecraft which failed to achieve orbit or those which were placed in a sub‑orbital trajectory, have been inserted in the date order.

For each spacecraft the following information is provided:

International Designation and NORAD number

For each spacecraft the International Designation, as allocated by the International Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), has been used as the primary means to identify the spacecraft. This is followed by the NORAD catalogue number which has been assigned to each object in space, including debris etc., in a numerical sequence, rather than a chronoligical sequence.

Normally no reference has been made to spent launch vehicles, capsules ejected by the spacecraft or fragments except where such have a unique identification which warrants consideration as a separate spacecraft or in other circumstances which warrants their mention.


The most common name of the spacecraft has been quoted. In some cases, such as for US military spacecraft, the name may have been deduced from published information and may not necessarily be the official name.

Alternative names have, however, been mentioned in the description and have also been included in the index.

Country/International Agency

For each spacecraft the name of the country or international agency which owned or had prime responsibility for the spacecraft, or in which the owner resided, has been included.

In the case of some multi‑national spacecraft, as well as spacecraft launched on behalf of other nations on a commercial or a non‑commercial basis, the country quoted is that country considered as the principal participant or the country in which the owner resided.

The following abbreviations have been used:

ELDO:  European Launcher Development Organisation

ESA:    European Space Agency

ESRO:  European Space Research Organisation

NATO:  North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

USA:    United States of America

USSR:  Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (until 31 December 1991)

Launch date

This is the launch date expressed in UTC. Where a spacecraft has been released from another space vehicle, including the Space Shuttle, the date of release has been used, as it is considered that was the date on which the spacecraft became a separate identity in space rather than on the day it was launched from the Earth.


This refers either to the decay date that the spacecraft burnt up in the atmosphere, or the date on which a controlled recovery took place.

In selected cases, as indicated in the text, the re‑entry date is the date on which the spacecraft ceased to be an entity in its own right.

Launch Site

Reference to launch site is to a geographical site rather than the named site. For example, the Kennedy Space Centre and Canaveral Air Force Station are both referred to as Cape Canaveral.

The geographical positions of the launch sites are:

Name                           Location

Kapustin Yar                 48°30’N            45°46’E

Baikonour                     45°40’N            63°24’E

Plesetsk                       62°43’N            40°18’E

Cape Canaveral             28°30’N            80°30’W

Vandenberg                  34°37’N             120°30’W

Wallops Island              37°52’N            75°28’W

Woomera                      31°58’S             136°31’E

Hammaguir                   30°54’N             3°5’W

Kourou                        5°14’N              52°46’W

San Marco                    2°56’S              40°12’E

Kagoshima                   31°14’N             131°5’E

Tanegashima                 30°24’N             130°58’E

Jiuquan                         40°25’N            99°50’E

Xichang                       27°58’N             102°13’E

Taiyuan                         37°8’N               111°5’E

Sriharikota                    13°47’N            80°15’E

Palmachim                    31°6’N              34°4’E

Edwards AFB                31°55’N             117°54’W

Svobodny                        51°24’N             128o7’E

Gando                          27°30’N             15°12’W

Kol’skiy Peninsula         69°20’N             35°20’E

Barents Sea                  varies               varies

Odessey                       0°                     150°W (varies)

Musudan-ri                    41°N                 130°E

Kodiak                          57°24’N             152o20’W

Kwajalein                      8o45’N               166o45’E

Alcantara                      2o20’S               44o15’W

Omelek Island               9o3’N                 167o44’E

Yasniy                         50°45’N             59°30’E

Naro                             34o16’N             127o30’E

Semnan                        35o14’N             53o55’EN

Barking Sands              22o1’N               159o47’W

Sohae                           39o40’N             124o42’E

Van Horn                      31o2’N               104o50W

Vostochny                    51o53’N             128o20’E

Wenchang                     19o36’N             110o57’E.

Launch Vehicle

Launch vehicles have been designated by their commonly known names. It does not include the launch vehicle’s serial number.

Orbital parameters

The orbital parameters of a spacecraft are constantly fluctuating due to atmospheric drag, the solar wind etc.

In the majority of cases, for flights up to 31 December 1992, the orbital parameters for perigee, apogee and orbital inclination, as published by the Defence Research Agency, Farnborough in ‘The RAE Table of Earth Satellites’ and the ‘The DRA Table of Space Vehicles’, have been used as the orbital parameters in those reference sources have been cross referenced to a particular date.

From 1 January 1993 the orbital parameters as published in NASA’s ‘Spacewarn Bulletin’ have been used. When this publication ceased data was obtained from

For those satellite for which the orbital parameters were not formally published (in particular for US military satellites) estimated orbital parameters based on amateur observations have been shown.

In most cases the first orbital parameters were chosen but, where deemed appropriate, the operational orbit has been shown. This is particularly the case with spacecraft in geostationary orbit where reference is made to the geographical longitude over which the spacecraft was placed.

Only in selected instances has mention been made of subsequent orbtal parameters due to significant maneuvers as well as relocation in geostationary orbit.

Some solar orbits have been expressed in Astronomical Units (AU) (1 AU = 149,500,000 km) with an inclination to the ecliptic plane.

Orbits around other bodies (the Moon and the planets) are expressed in a similar manner as Earth orbits with the appropriate reference in the details.


For each spacecraft details have been provided to readily understand the objective of the spacecraft.

Information has also been provided about the instruments carried by spacecraft although, as a rule, no reference has been made to basic equipment for telemetry and spacecraft housekeeping.

In a number of instances, the progress and results of the flight of a spacecraft have been discussed.

Where appropriate, the mass of a spacecraft refers to the empty mass. Based on the source data, in some instances, the mass may, however, refer to the launch mass

Where a spacecraft was related to a series of similar spacecraft reference has been made to the detailed description of such a series which has usually been included in the description of the first spacecraft of that series. Details peculiar to a specific member of a series remain, however, with that specific spacecraft.


Illustrations, where provided, are not captioned except where it was deemed necessary to provide essential information on the illustration.

Sub‑orbital flights

Sub‑orbital flights are only included where such flights, irrespective of the altitude achieved, were related to actual spacecraft listed in the main body of the database.

This essentially excludes sounding rockets, irrespective of the altitude achieved, and research programmes such as X-15, X-23 and X-24 even though some of these flights exceeded an altitude of 80 km.

Cancelled spacecraft

A separate file includes details of selected cancelled spacecraft and programmes where such spacecraft were related to actual spacecraft listed in the main body of the database or were significantly developed or completed at the time of cancellation. As such, it is not a listing of all cancelled spacecraft.

Proposed spacecraft

A separate file includes details of selected proposed spacecraft and programmes where such spacecraft are related to actual spacecraft listed in the main body of the database. As such, it is not a listing of all proposed spacecraft.