History of Space-Based Infrared Astronomy and the Air Force Infrared Celestial Backgrounds Program
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB HANSCOM AFB MA SPACE VEHICLES DIRECTORATE
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A retrospective is provided on space-based astronomy missions and the prominent role the US Defense Department DoD, particularly the Air Force, played in early days of infrared astronomy and the technology development that was transitioned to the infrared astronomical community. The geophysics programs at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories AFCRL and successor organizations AFGL at Hanscom Air Force Base are described in order to provide a context for the DoD infrared astronomy program. AFCRL and AFGL conducted the early mid-infrared probe-rocket based surveys as well as supporting related experiments under university contracts. The succession of subsequent orbital experiments is also described.