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Telescope, OAO III, Princeton Experiment Package, Copernicus


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:

This is the engineering prototype of the optical telescope and spectrograph, carried by the third Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO III) called "Copernicus." The telescope, known as the Princeton Experiment Package, consisted of an 82-cm (32-inch) parabolic mirror and a high-resolution spectrograph mounted at a modified Cassegrain focus. Launched on August 21, 1972, Copernicus was the second successful satellite in the OAO series. Over a 9-year period, Copernicus observed the ultraviolet spectra of stars, galaxies, a nova, and the interstellar medium. It provided new information about how stars form and age. Transferred from NASA in 1973.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


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

Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration


  • Tube -- titanium-aluminum alloy, optics and electronics
  • Optics - glass, fused silica


Storage (Rehoused on aluminum pallet): 304.8 × 121.9 × 155.6cm, 501.2kg (10 × 48 × 61 1/4 in., 1105lb.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number