The Mission and Spacecraft Library

So, what is The Mission and Spacecraft Library (MSL)?

The Mission and Spacecraft Library is a catalog of space mission information designed for use by the public. Although much of the information contained in the database is technical in nature, the purpose of the library is to provide top level descriptions of various spacecraft missions without too much aerospace geek-speak. The goal is to answer the question(s) "I wonder what the XXX mission did/where it went/what it looked like".

The library has several major parts, described below.

Launch Facts

Our Launch Facts database contains basic information about all 5000+ orbital spacecraft launches and launch attempts since the beginning of the Space Age. Information is accessed by searching the database using search parameters selected on a WWW form page. The search script returns a preformatted WWW page that contains information on all spacecraft that meet the search criteria. The data provided for each identified spacecraft include satellite name, organization, launch date, launch site, launch vehicle, spacecraft mass, orbit class, and mission type. If a satellite in the table has a QuickLook page (see below) associated with it, a hypertext link will be provided.

Orbit Ephemeris

Many of our users have requested a simple way to search for detailed Two Line Element (TLE) sets that characterize a spacecraft's orbit. This information has always been publicly available on the Internet, but can be difficult to find and understand. Our first attempt at providing this service as part of MSL is now online, ready to test out. It's listed under search options on our home page.

Quicklook Pages

QuickLook pages provide more in-depth information. Each QuickLook page is associated with a particular satellite or satellite series. A satellite's QuickLook page may contain any or all of the following: a brief description of the mission's objectives, a picture, launch and orbit notes, and brief descriptions of the spacecraft and its payload. Links are often included to a satellite's sponsor, user, manufacturer, and related web sites.

Satellites which are part of larger missions or networks consisting of multiple spacecraft are sometimes grouped together on program pages. These program pages provide information about the entire program, with further links to QuickLooks about each satellite in the program. An example is the Intelsat Program, which consists of many satellites produced by many spacecraft manufacturers that were launched by several different launch vehicles, but still have a common purpose.

The ultimate goal of The Mission and Spacecraft Library is to provide QuickLook descriptions of all interesting space missions that have ever been launched. But, since over 5000 satellites have been launched since the beginning of the Space Age, with over 100 more launched every year, this will take a while... (sigh). Right now there are roughly 200 missions in the QuickLook database, and we're trying to add more missions at the rate of 10-15/month. That's where you come in...


The Mission and Spacecraft Library is intended for public consumption, and keeping with the communal spirit of the Internet, we've kept the information free, and rely on users like you to help make MSL a better resource for everyone. If you are familiar with the details of a space program that isn't listed or needs correction, we hope you will take a couple minutes to share your knowledge. Several forms are available for this purpose in our "add" section - you can learn more by reading our submission guidelines.

But please don't limit your comments to things like technical corrections, we'd like to know what you want to see in MSL, and what you're using it for. MSL is slowly evolving, and our vision of where we'd like to go with it is also evolving. The more feedback we get, the better we can adapt MSL to the needs of its users. So, whatever ideas you have about MSL, its content, other types of data that could be included, etc. let us know. We'll do our best to accommodate.

The MSL guys


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Information in The Mission and Spacecraft Library is provided without warranty or guarantee. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.