Country of Origin: United States of America
Overall: 6 1/4in. x 3ft 1in. (15.88 x 93.98cm)
Painted metal shell
This is one of several replicas of the Explorer 1 in the collection consisting of machined metal shells of the payload section. Explorer-1 was the first American satellite to successfully orbit the Earth. The launch of Sputnik-1 on October 4, 1957 and the launch failure of the Vanguard-1 satellite in December of that year seemed to symbolize America's failure to lead in the Space Race. Since the mid-1950's Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had underway a development program for missile reentry vehicles in conjunction with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). Soon after the Vanguard failure the JPL- ABMA team were authorized to adapt the Jupiter-C reentry test vehicle to an instrumented earth satellite. The resulting Explorer-1 satellite was successfully launched and placed into Earth orbit on January 31, 1958. The satellite transmitted data on micrometeorites and cosmic radiation for 105 days. Data from this and two subsequent Explorer satellites led to the discovery by James Van Allen of a belt of intense radiation surrounding the Earth.
Transferred to NASM by JPL via NASA in February 1975.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration