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NASA Goddard Satellites of the 1960 Decade

America's first successful orbiting of a satellite launch happened on February 1, 1958 with the launch of Explorer 1 atop a Juno 1 rocket. Our first attempted satellite launch was the Vanguard TV3, on December 6, 1957, but it unfortunately succumbed to a failed booster rocket (it rose only 4 feet off the launch pad). Russia had already launched its Sputnik 1 satellite on October 4, 1957, making it the very first manmade satellite to orbit the earth - to the forever chagrin of U.S. scientists. Fortunately, advances occurred rapidly for the U.S. space program after Explorer 1. In its first full decade of existence, the Goddard Space Flight Center, located in Greenbelt, Maryland, was responsible for launching more than 100 different spacecraft carrying a wide variety of weather, communications, space physics and astronomy experiments. The chart to the right appears in the history area of the NASA website.

The Space Race, with only two primary contenders - the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. - unofficially began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to America's announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year. Not only did the Ruskies beat us into orbit, but they also put the first man into space with Yuri Gagarin, on April, 12 1961. John Glenn made his successful orbit on February 20, 1962, in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule. They also beat us to the reach the moon with a probe (Luna 1) and to land on Venus (Venera 7). Ouch. Fortunately, we've been kicking their heinies at space exploration since then :-)

Interestingly, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was not chartered until July 29, 1958, after orbit was achieved. Prior to then, its name was NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics).



Explorer 1 Satellite - RF Cafe


Posted February 25, 2019

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