Duties during Gemini as Section Chief Radiation Analysis
But, Starfish (July 1962) changed the plan to a secret mission
Starfish aftereffects While some of the energetic beta particles followed the Earth's magnetic field and illuminated the sky, other high-energy electrons became trapped and formed radiation belts around the earth. There was much uncertainty and debate about the composition, magnitude and potential adverse effects from this trapped radiation after the detonation. DOD became quite worried when three satellites in low earth orbit were disabled. These man-made radiation belts eventually crippled one-third of all satellites in low earth orbit. Seven satellites failed over the months following the test as radiation damaged their solar arrays or electronics, including the first commercial relay communication satellite, Telstar. Detectors on Telstar, TRAAC, Injun, and Ariel 1 were used to measure distribution of the radiation produced by the tests. In 1963, Brown et al. reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research that Starfish Prime had created a belt of MeV electrons, and Wilmot Hess reported in 1968 that some Starfish electrons remained for five years.
Dr. Modisette wrote Dr. George Mueller Starfish would have killed our crew in three orbits passing through the South Atlantic anomaly RIOMETER data taken during Starfish quantified original intensity of the event, and this information if in real time could be used for warning Warning could be improved by bring our Forward Scatter Network to real time
NASA HQ sent letter to Sec of USAF USAF took this very seriously Authorized a secret warning system to be implemented at our console by our team; and that our team would be joined by an USAF specialist taken from the ranks of the nuclear missile launching silos. Authorized augmenting our inputs to links to Sunnyvale assets and to US intelligence Agreed to bringing their assets into real time
Why take this seriously We were developing a top secret camera for lunar landing site surveillance We flew prototypes of this camera on Gemini, then degraded these images for publication Certain countries believed our overflights amounted to violation of sovereignty These countries might have Starfish capability
What this entailed The world-wide scientific RIOMETER network had to be converted to real-time reporting This system would be augmented by Sunnyvale assets by bringing the Vella Hotel x-ray nuclear bomb detection online Further this operation would be connected in real time to US intelligence assets This effort was classified SECRET Our team had to be trained to process this information and alert the flight director to abort the mission immediately. Training produced a step by step book for evaluating information against data thresholds. We had a secure red phone and TTY
25 Year Declassified The existence of this program was automatically declassified under executive order by George W. Bush along with other 25 year old documents of historical value, and because no exceptions were sought by NASA or DOD. However to be prudent exact details remain undisclosed.