The Mission and Spacecraft Library

How to search for stuff in The Mission and Spacecraft Library

Information contained in The Mission and Spacecraft Library can be accessed by simply browsing our index pages, or through a database serach. The search algorithms for the QuickLooks, Launch Facts, and Orbit Ephemeris Data, while fairly self-explanatory, each have their own nuances, so don't feel shy about reading the instructions below.

QuickLooks Pages

Finding the QuickLook page(s) you are looking for can be accomplished in two ways: by browsing through one of several Quicklooks indexes and choosing what you like, or by searching for keywords.
  • Indices - Two indices currently exist to help guide you through the QuickLook pages - one sorted alphabetically by spacecraft name, and one sorted by mission category. There's also an alphabetical listing of all program pages contained in MSL. Each of these indices is updated whenever new material is added to the Library. Simply select the index you'd like, browse through the index to find the spacecraft you want, and click on a link to get more information. It's that simple...

  • QuickLook Search - The QuickLook Search scans through the text of all QuickLook and Program pages to find matches for a specified keyword. In a few seconds, you'll receive a page containing a list of all files that contained a match to the keyword, with hypertext links. To initiate a QuickLook Search, simply enter the keyword you'd like to find in the QuickLook Search box on the MSL Home page, and hit "Go!". Our computer does the rest...

Launch Facts

Information in the Launch Facts database is accessed via a form used to specify parameters for a database search routine. This form has 8 different selectable parameters, including Spacecraft Name, Spacecraft Mass, Launch Year, Orbit Class, Organization, Launch Site, Mission Type, and Launch Vehicle. After submitting a query with the desired parameter(s), our search algorithm will return a page containing all available data for each spacecraft meeting the query criteria. Plus, if the spacecraft has an associated QuickLook page, a hypertext link will be provided to the QuickLook.

A description of each of the search parameters follows:

  • Spacecraft Name - the name of the spacecraft you wish to find. However, because labeling conventions for satellite names are not always consistent, e.g. some people use roman numbers while others use arabic characters, the search may not always find what you are looking for. If initially unsuccessful, try variations on the name, or use a subset of the name, e.g. look for "Intelsat" instead of "Intelsat 5 F3". One other note: spacecraft are sometimes renamed after reaching orbit, so you may need to find the latest designation for the spacecraft you're looking for.

  • Spacecraft Mass - the minimum or maximum mass of the spacecraft you wish to find. Right now, the search algorithm can only perform searches for masses greater than or less than a specified value. Depending on user feedback, searching for masses in a range of values may be implemented.

  • Launch Year - the year the spacecraft was launched.

  • Orbit Class - the general orbit category in which the spacecraft operated. Definitions of the orbit classes are given in the glossary. For spacecraft which changed orbit during flight, the orbit class is the one where the spacecraft spent most of the time, or performed most of its mission (e.g. a geostationary commsat would be listed in GEO, despite the fact that it may have started in a LEO or HEO parking/transfer orbit).

  • Organization - the organization which owns and operates the satellite. In many cases satellites are owned by national space agencies, and are listed by country. In cases where a satellite is privately owned, the private corporation is listed as the controlling organization. Where ownership of a satellite is uncertain or unknown, the country which launched the satellite is listed.

  • Launch Site - the place the satellite was launched from.

  • Mission Type - the general type of mission performed by the satellite. A list of the different mission types, and definitions for each type, are given in the glossary.

  • Launch Vehicle - the launch vehicle used to place the satellite into orbit. For satellites deployed from an already orbiting spacecraft, the launch vehicle originally used to launch the deploying spacecraft (not the deploying spacecraft itself) is listed.


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