MSD 3 & NOSS 3A to 3C

Launch Time
Mon Mar 03, 1980 09:27 UTC


Atlas-E/F MSD
Image Credit: USAF or NASA
General Dynamics
Status: Retired
Payload to LEO: 800 kg
Stages: 2
Strap-ons: 0

Mission Details


MSD (Multiple Satellite Dispenser) were dispensers for the Parcae (NOSS) satellite triplets.

These satellites were developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Each launch on top of an modified Atlas-E/F rocket consisted of the MSD mother satellite, which also acted as an upper stage for the stack using an integrated FW-4D solid rocket motor. In orbit, three NOSS satellites were separated and flew together in a triangle formation.

NOSS 3A to 3C

NOSS (Naval Ocean Surveillance Satellites), which were also referred to by the code names White Cloud and Parcae, are constellations of passive ELINT satellites, which pinpoint the location of ships by triangulation of their Radar emissions.

The first two sets of satellites were manufactured by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), then the production of the satellites had been turned over to Martin Marietta under the direction of USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Organization, with technical assistance provided by the Naval Research Laboratory.

The follow-on system used the larger NOSS-2 satellite triplets.

Payloads: 3


SLC-3W, Vandenberg SFB, California, USA



19th orbital launch attempt


3rd mission
1st mission of 1980
3rd successful mission