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Explorer I -- 60 Years Ago Today

01/31/2018 09:21AM

Explorer I -- 60 Years Ago Today

During 1957, the US and the Soviet Union worked diligently on plans to orbit satellites as part of the 1958 International Geophysical Year (IGY). Given the Cold War competition between the two superpowers, the first to launch a satellite could claim technological preeminence. The Soviet Union leaped ahead of the US and stunned the world when they orbited Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957. Explorer 1 successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on January 31, 1958 -- 60 years ago today.


Comments:

  • brokenarrow [Robert Sheldon Padawer]
  • 02/02/2018 04:43PM
While you are at the NASA website, check out "ECHO". When I was a kid I'd go outside and see this 135' diameter balloon streaking accross the sky just like the ISS - but that was 54 years ago. The giant silver sphere was visible often everywhere on earth several times a night. No - it did not twinkle but I did not have a theodolite to track it. Clearly it was a big thing - and bright. Although Echo was a passive communication satellite, it's presence spread the idea that a continuing presence outside our atmosphere was a doable thing. It allowed Americans to see proof of the resolve to explore space every clear night.
<br>Robert:<br><br>Thanks for your comments. They bring back some great memories.<br><br>On some warm summer nights as a kid in the late 1960s, I'd be outside observing with a "state of the art" Edmunds Scientific 6 inch f/8 Reflector and I'd notice a bright object slowly moving across the sky in a Polar Orbit. It was Echo 2 (although I did not know it at the time). There were some nights I'd see it cross twice in the same night.<br><br>I recently got a chance to see the ISS and I can tell you that Echo 2 was substantially brighter -- You could not miss it.<br><br>Years later, I had the great honor of working at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey. Bell Labs was the manufacturer of the Echo satellites.<br><br>Each day, I'd drive by the the large horn antenna on Crawford Hill that was built by Bell Labs for Echo 1. This was the same antenna used by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in their discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which won them the Nobel Prize.<br><br>Guy Pirro<br><br><br><br><br><blockquote class="blockquote"><div class="italic"><i>Robert Sheldon Padawer said:</i><br><br>While you are at the NASA website, check out "ECHO". When I was a kid I'd go outside and see this 135' diameter balloon streaking across the sky just like the ISS - but that was 54 years ago. The giant silver sphere was visible often everywhere on earth several times a night. No - it did not twinkle but I did not have a theodolite to track it. Clearly it was a big thing - and bright. Although Echo was a passive communication satellite, it's presence spread the idea that a continuing presence outside our atmosphere was a doable thing. It allowed Americans to see proof of the resolve to explore space every clear night.</div></blockquote>