Edited by
Folkert, Atley and Will

Running on


The Vela program was not designed to carry out scientific investigations. Rather, it was initiated to verify the Limited Test Ban Treaty. That treaty had been negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union and signed in 1963. Its prime purpose was to put a halt to testing of nuclear weapons in space and in Earth's atmosphere. Vela was a set of satellites, launched in pairs in the years 1963 to 1970, that orbited far above the Earth and kept watch for clandestine tests. The program was run by the Department of Defense. What makes Vela interesting from a astrophysical perspective is that the satellites were the first to detect gamma ray bursts. The first of these detections occurred in 1967, but because of the secret nature of the satellite program the detections remained classified until 1973.