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FOIA: Sandia Laboratories report on the Sep 22, 1979 Vela satellite event - Alert 747

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posted on Nov, 21 2007 @ 09:18 PM
Sandia Laboratories report on the Sep 22, 1979 Vela satellite event - Alert 747
Sandia Labratory report on the Sep 22, 1979 Vela satellite event - Alert 747. Scientific analysis of the satellite and event.

Document date: 1980-05-01
Department: Sandia Laboratories
Author: G.H. Mauth
Document type: report
pages: 70


Archivist's Notes: Good quality document with limited blacking out. 'Secret' and 'Sensitive intelligence sources and methods involved' marks crossed out. Many paged with 'Information deleted' which would appear to have been the sensitive information. Includes a distribution list. Classification and routing stamps.

posted on Nov, 21 2007 @ 11:02 PM
This report is numbered 26 of only 40 copies, Series A.

It concerns a routine check of data stored in Vela satellite 6911’s nuclear event detection memory. A low yield atmospheric nuclear detonation was recorded. None of the other Vela satellites in the vicinity recorded such an event. Upon searching the area, no debris was found. Instruments in the area, at the time of the report were still being “interrogated” and the information retrieved being analyzed.

(Note: my numbering system is as to the PDF page number, NOT the report’s page number)

Page 6: Interesting information on atmospheric nuclear detonations and how the instrumentation on the satellites detect them.

Page 11: Discussion on the attenuation of optical signals in earth atmosphere. Lots of math for those who comprehend it, as well as an illustrative diagram on page 12.

Page 11 also begins a discussion of satellite bhangmeter design, which continues on page 14 after several sections removed for secrecy. The bhangmeter description is carried through page 18.

Page 18: Information on background interference such as by electrical storms, photons, and earth light, and how they can affect the reading of a bhangmeter, as well as stabilization problems. This descriptive process continues through page 21.

Page 21: Brief history of Vela Program begins.

Page 23: Discussion of the design of the Vela bhangmeter. The end of this and several pages onward have been deleted.

Page 29: Vela phototode spectral response calibration diagram.

Page 31: After another deleted page, the document picks up the description of the Vela bhangmeter’s design and capabilities.

Page 33: Table 1 – Vela Bhangmeter Logarithmic Time Sampling Plan.

Page 34: Begins a discussion of pre-launch calibration.

Page 35: Begins a discussion of on-orbit calibration.

Page 37: Vela VYA Cal 1 Response (chart)

Page 38: Vela YCA Laser Calibration Response (chart)

Page 39: Vela YVA Laser Calibration Response (chart)

Page 40: Begins Vela 6911 performance history

Page 48: Vela YCA Typical Background Modulation Response (chart)

Page 49: Performance history continues

The analysis of Alert 747 begins on page 49. Figures 27 and 28 (on pages 51 and 52) have been deleted. Analysis continues on page 53. Figures 29 and 30 (on pages 54 and 55) are deleted. The analysis finishes on page 56.

Page 56: Begins a discussion of the post-event performance checks. Figure 31 on page 57 is deleted.

Page 58: Alert 747 Post-Event YCA Cal 1 Response (chart)

Page 59: Alert 747 Post-Event YVA Cal 1 Response (chart)

Page 60: Continues discussion of post-event performance checks.

Pages 61 - 65: Vela 6911 YCA Atypical Background Modulation Response (charts)

Page 66: Discussion of bench testing spare units to check for malfunction and component degradation.

Page 67: When compared to known Nudet events, Alert 747 shows a larger inconsistency in the YCA and YVA time histories.

Description of Vela “zoo” which is designed to extract events not fitting well-known time history characteristics of Cal 1, Cal 2, energetic particle and lightning events.

Page 68: Why meteoroids are not thought to be the cause of Event 747.

Page 69: Conclusion: Event 747 was feasibly an error signal and that the findings of Vela 6911 were consistent with a low-yield atmospheric NUDET.

Page 70: The report’s distribution list, with some interesting destinations, such as the CIA, Los Alamos, and Union Carbide.


This report is very tech-heavy and it would take someone trained in this sort of science and engineering to really understand the jargon, but the conclusions at the end are fairly simple and clear.

posted on Nov, 21 2007 @ 11:43 PM
Thank you MajorMalfunction for the detailed review.

I just like to add this:

Here again – many pages were deleted, therefore we see our Freedom of Information being restricted….

I would also note that this document is dated May 1 1980, that is 22 days before the scientific panel reviewed this incident.

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