View Full Version : 50 Years Ago: Explorer 1

2008-Jan-31, 03:40 PM
The launch of Sputnik in October 1957 changed the world overnight. And with the Soviet Unionís second successful launch of Sputnik 2 the following month, Americans were feeling a little left behind in the dust, especially after the USís first satellite launch attempt with the Vanguard rocket exploded on the launchpad. But space [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2008/01/31/50-years-ago-explorer-1/)

2008-Jan-31, 03:59 PM
First U.S. Satellite a Triumph of American Ability and Vision (http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.rss.html?pid=24649)

The launch of the Explorer 1 satellite, 50 years ago tomorrow, showed the unlimited potential of the United States to succeed on the highest of technological levels, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said Thursday.

"This anniversary is a time for Americans to look upon our achievements in space with great pride," Blakey said. "Explorer 1 included sensitive equipment that sent important data back to our scientists, leading to discoveries of great scientific value. And it directly led to our great achievements in manned space exploration."

Explorer I launched at 10:43 p.m. on Jan. 31, 1958. It came about three months after the launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union, which touched off the space race.

2008-Jan-31, 04:04 PM
50 Years Later: First U.S. Satellite's Souvenirs Still Circle the Earth (http://www.space.com/news/cs-080131-explorer1-history.html)

Explorer I operated, sending back data to the ground, for just over 100 days before its batteries died, but it wasn't until March 31, 1970, 12 years and two months after its launch, did the satellite disintegrate while reentering the atmosphere.

It was around that time, if not a few years earlier, did the museum that was erected near where the historic mission had its start began distributing small pieces of the gantry that supported Juno I on the pad as it prepared to launch Explorer I.

"The beginnings of this are sort of lost in legend, if you will," explained James Banke, secretary of the U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Museum Foundation. "No one, and we've asked around a little bit, even among those who run the museum itself, no one is really sure when it began."

"I can tell you that when I vacationed in Florida from growing up in Minnesota, that when I visited the museum in 1970-1971, that practice was going on. I remember getting one of those cards," said Banke in an interview with collectSPACE.com.

The cards to which Banke refers present an "X" shaped piece of metal, sometimes with a residual coating of the launch gantry's red paint, attached alongside a photo of Juno I on the pad and a description of the history behind the small fragment. The title "Souvenir of America's First Satellite" stretches along the top of the cards.

2008-Jan-31, 04:12 PM
Remembering When U.S. Finally (and Really) Joined the Space Race
JOHN NOBLE WILFORD (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/john_noble_wilford/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: January 29, 2008
If Sputnik 1 was the beep-beep-beep heard round the world, Explorer 1 announced itself 50 years ago this week by the collective sigh of relief from an anxious American public.

It was late in the evening, Jan. 31, 1958, almost four months after the Soviet Union stunned the world on Oct. 4 with the launching of Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite. A second, larger Sputnik soon followed, carrying a canine passenger.

The first American attempt, with the modest Vanguard 1 in December, was an embarrassing failure, immediately derided as ďflopnik.Ē

Now it was up to a rocket assembled from German V-2 technology and American upper stages to boost the slender, bullet-shape Explorer into orbit. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla., looked good. That was progress. Vanguard had shut down a few feet above the launching pad, collapsing and exploding for all to see on live television.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/science/space/29space.html?ref=science

The link takes you to a good interactive media package of content about the space race, including PDFs of the original Times stories on each topic or event.

2008-Jan-31, 09:05 PM
Happy Anniversary, Explorer 1!

2008-Feb-01, 04:28 PM
AMERICA'S SPACE AGE TURNS 50 (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/31/624367.aspx)

Carl Raggio still remembers how tense he felt exactly 50 years ago, on the night America entered the Space Age.

He and his fellow engineers were playing gin rummy at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. - but their minds weren't fully on the game. They were waiting for the beep-beep-beep that would tell them the satellite they had slaved over for months had actually reached orbit. "That's an anxious time," he told me this week. "That's the gut time."

Then the definitive signal came. It came later than expected, but nevertheless it came, at 9:45 p.m. PT on Jan. 31, 1958. Explorer 1 was circling Earth for the first time - and proving that America could match the Soviets on the Cold War's orbital frontier.