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While the Vanguard team had to work under the pressure of a public deadline, preparations for Explorer 1 were mostly secret. The modified Jupiter C, renamed Juno to distance it from the military programme, was flown in to Cape Canaveral on 20 December, while the satellite joined it in late January 1958. Two launch attempts were abandoned, but high winds abated on 31 January, and Juno's main

IN THE BLOCKHOUSE

Tense engineers monitor Explorer 1 's progress under the supervision of Kurt Debus (left), director of the Launch Operations Center and another member of the V-2 team.

engines fired at 10:48pm local time. Despite the secrecy, thousands had gathered nearby to watch.

Von Braun, Pickering, and others saw the launch from the War Room at the Pentagon. As it turned out, Explorer 1 entered a higher orbit than expected, 2,520km (1,575 miles) from Earth at its highest point. This made it the most distant object launched so far, but the longer orbit also meant a delay before signals were picked up to confirm the satellite was safely in orbit. By the time von Braun, Pickering, and James Van Allen (see panel, below) arrived at the National Academy of Sciences for a news conference in the early hours of 1 February, the press had been alerted and they received a hero's welcome.

low-power transmitter

nose cone particle and micrometeorite detection package

\ temperature sensor low-power transmitter

INSIDE EXPLORER 1

The rear of Explorer 1 was a miniature version of JPL's Sergeant rocket. The front contained three scientific instruments - a temperature sensor, a microphone system to detect the sound of tiny meteorites hitting the satellite, and the particle detector package (effectively an oversized Geiger counter). There was also a radio transmitter to send data bock to Earth.

turnstile antenna wire micrometeorite erosion gauges (12)

high-power transmitter external temperature gauge rocket casing

\ turnstile antenna wires give broad arc of reception

William Pickering handed the task of designing Explorer 1's scientific instruments to James Van Allen (1914-2006), a scientist who had been investigating the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space since the 1940s. He had been involved in launching particle detectors and other instruments on V-2 and Bumper rockets from White Sands and was one of the strongest advocates of the project to launch a satellite during the IGY. The reward for his work was scientific immortality - Explorer 1 discovered the presence of radiation belts beyond the Earth's atmosphere, today known as the Van Allen Belts.

Early satellites

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw many firsts: the first attempts at communication via satellite, the first attempts at Earth observation and using satellites for intelligence, and the first orbital laboratories.

TRACKING THE SATELLITES

The arrival of the Space Age left the superpowers scrambling for ways of tracking their satellites around the globe. The first large radio telescope, at Jodrell Bank, England, found a new purpose tracking launches. Soon, the United States had installed tracking stations around the world, while the Soviet Union had equipped a fleet of tracking ships that could stay in contact with a spacecraft throughout its orbit.

TRACKING THE SATELLITES

The arrival of the Space Age left the superpowers scrambling for ways of tracking their satellites around the globe. The first large radio telescope, at Jodrell Bank, England, found a new purpose tracking launches. Soon, the United States had installed tracking stations around the world, while the Soviet Union had equipped a fleet of tracking ships that could stay in contact with a spacecraft throughout its orbit.

15 May 1958

The launch of the Sputnik 3 orbiting laboratory emphasizes the power and dominance of Soviet launch vehicles.

18 December 1958

The experimental SCORE satellite is launched by an Atlas B rocket, broadcasting a prerecorded message from President Eisenhower.

28 February 1959

The US launches an experimental spy satellite, Oiscoverer 1, intended to take photographs from space and then return a capsule of film safely to Earth.

11 August 1960

At the end of the Discoverer 13 mission, a film capsule is returned to Earth from orbit for the first time.

12 August 1960

NASA launches the experimental Echo 1 radio-reflector satellite.

4 October 1960

The US Army launches Courier 1B, the first satellite with the ability to receive and retransmit signals from the ground.

10 July 1962

Telstar, ancestor of the modern communications satellite, is launched. Television signals broadcast from space are received in the United States and Europe.

radio antennae

Early satellites solar panels

SPUTNIK 3

The third Sputnik to be launched weighed a massive 1,327kg (2,920lb) - far more than the US could hope to launch at the time. It carried a variety of instruments to study the environment around the Earth.

The opening exchanges of the Space Race were followed by a period of experimentation as both sides attempted to orbit increasingly ambitious satellites and establish the potential future uses of space.

PROJECT ECHO

One of the earliest satellites launched by NASA, Echo 1 inflated after launch into a sphere 30m (100ft) across. When the sat el loon, as it was colled, was visible, signals bounced off it could be received at great distances.

followed, before they resumed in 1960 (later Sputniks were in fact tests for the manned Vostok missions).

Eyes in the sky

Since the US and Soviet space programmes were both driven by military priorities, the achievement of spaceflight was soon followed by the first attempts at surveillance. Space-based cameras would be less vulnerable to attack from the ground than spy planes (a point brought home when a US U-2 was shot down over the USSR in May 1960). Since the technology to send pictures back from space electronically was in its infancy (see p.52), the best way to capture high-resolution images was on photographic film that could then be returned to Earth. To test this, the US launched a series of Discoverer satellites (also known by the name Corona), of which Discoverer 13 was the first to return its film to Earth, dropping it into the atmosphere on 11 August 1960, to be retrieved in mid-descent by a C-119 transport plane. Meanwhile, the Samos programme experimented with electronic image transmission - developing its photographs in orbit before sending them back to Earth.

electrostatic fluxmeter

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw many firsts: the first attempts at communication via satellite, the first attempts at Earth observation and using satellites for intelligence, and the first orbital laboratories.

Solar power

Although the Vanguard launcher was ultimately doomed by the more reliable Juno and its successors, it did achieve one significant milestone. On 17 March 1958, it successfully put the Vanguard TV-4 satellite into orbit. This small "grapefruit", identical to the one the US had failed to launch the previous December, was the first spacecraft that used solar cells to generate energy.

Tikhonravov's Object D satellite, a far more impressive use of solar power, finally made it to orbit as Sputnik 3 on 15 May 1958 (a failed launch in April meant that a backup was used). One of the craft's many innovations was a data recorder that would store instrument readings on magnetic tape and play them back when the satellite came within range magnetometer Qf $ovjet recejvef ^ยก^

1 Although the recorder did not porticle work properly, limiting the detector j data returned from the

/j satellite, the principle photon iytt | ^ would be widely used detector _ L |ater A two-year hiatus in Sputnik launches

retro rocket vernier steering rockets

TECHNOLOGY

thermal control system

- radio antenna Pioneer 1

outer case houses stabilizing gyroscopes

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