Meteorological Satellite, Tiros Operational Satellite


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The TIROS Operational Satellites (TOS) were developed after the ten experimental spacecraft from the TIROS (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) series proved the feasibility of space-based weather observation. In operation from 1966 to 1976, the TOS series of satellites provided continuous observation of global weather conditions and generated over one million images from the nine spacecraft launched during the program.

TOS used two satellite types. One carried the APT (Automatic Picture Transmission) camera system that allowed real-time transmission of images to small ground stations. The other carried the AVCS (Advanced Vidicon Camera System) that could store images and then send them to Command and Data Acquisition (CDA) stations.

The Museum's artifact is a flight qualified spare of an APT version of the TOS spacecraft and was transferred to the Museum from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1965.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration


  • Aluminum
  • Magnesium
  • HAZMAT: Cadmium Plating
  • Mixed Metals
  • Electronics
  • Solar Panels


  • Overall: 23 in. tall x 41 in. wide (58.4 x 104.1cm)
  • Other (Satellite Bus): 41 in. diameter (104.1cm)

Country of Origin

United States of America





Inventory Number