Early Days of Space Exploration - SputnikTelemetry from Sputnik I as it
resource for further info from Michael Wright!
|The first artificial
satellite was launched October 4, 1957. And it wasn't American.
Soviet made Sputnik, weighing about 183 lbs., took about 98 minutes to orbit
the Earth on its elliptical path, 500 miles up. Traveling at 18,000 miles an
hour, Sputnik would "beep, beep, beep" it's telemetry as it passed over.
Americans were mortified. This was
scary stuff. People thought that the Russkies were going to be dropping bombs
from the sky.And the news just got worse.
A month later, the Soviets
launched Sputnik II, which weighed 1100 pounds and carried a live dog,
Americans scientists were scrambling to catch up. In December
they launched Vanguard.
Which went between 2 and 4 feet up and promptly
burst into a ball of fire. Our satellite, which was the size of a grapefruit,
was thrown clear which was as close to travel as it got.
Laika, Soviet Space
| Vanguard was such an
embarrassment that people called it "Kaputnik." In Washington, Dr. John P.
Hagen, chief of Project Vanguard, said that the failure of the rocket was
"undoubtedly a failure of some individual part" rather than one of design.
From here on, we perk right up. Werner Von Braun and his rocket
team successfully launch Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. America is now a
player in the "Space Race."
Explorer 1, a
scientific satellite, used a rocket that had been developed to test guided
missile components (also the same rocket later used as a IRBM placed in Turkey
and aimed towards the Soviet Union). Explorer 1 carried an instrument package
that provided evidence that the Earth is surrounded by intense bands of
radiation, named the Van Allen radiation belts, after the James Van Allen, who
designed Explorer's instrumentation.
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