This is a full-scale replica of the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, constructed by Ball Corporation's Aerospace Systems Division, the prime contractor for the telescope system and for many of the structural elements. Reconstruction began in mid-1986 using backup and leftover parts, with some new components, with assistance from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Perkin-Elmer and the Netherlands Aerospace Agency.
The Infrared Astronomical Satellite was a joint venture between NASA and its counterparts in the Netherlands and Great Britain. The satellite was launched on January 25, 1983 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta rocket. The payload was inserted into a near-circular orbit at about 900 km. IRAS produced infrared maps of the sky at 12, 25, 60 and 100 microns during 10 months of operation before its liquid helium was exhausted.
IRAS was donated to the Museum by the Ball Corporation in April 1987.