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First US Satellite Explorer I – 65 Years Ago Today

Posted by Guy Pirro 01/31/2023 11:02PM

First US Satellite Explorer I – 65 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. Through the combined efforts of JPL and the Army Ballistic Missile Ballistic Agency, Explorer 1 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Jan. 31, 1958 -- 65 years ago today. There was a nail-biting wait before tracking stations confirmed that Explorer 1 had gone successfully into orbit around Earth. With the launch of Explorer 1, the United States officially entered the space age. Explorer 1 followed a looping flight path that orbited Earth once every 114 minutes. The satellite went as high as 2565 kilometers (1594 miles) and as low as 362 kilometers (225 miles) above Earth. Explorer 1 stopped transmitting when its batteries ran out on May 23, 1958. It stayed in orbit for a dozen years, making a fiery reentry over the Pacific Ocean on March 31, 1970.


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