Communications Satellite, West Ford, Dipole Canister
Launched by the U.S. Air Force in 1963, the West Ford satellite used a unique concept to test the new undertaking of communications from space. Once in space, the dispenser via a spring mechanism pushed the canister (this artifact), packed with millions of tiny needles (dipoles), into orbit. The needles in the canister slowly separated and formed a ring around the Earth. Antennas on the ground bounced radio signals off the ring of needles to communicate.
The museum's satellite is a prototype.
Transferred from the National Museum of American History to the Museum in 2004.
Transferred from the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History
- Country of Origin
- United States of America
- SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Instruments & Payloads
- Plastic, copper, aluminum
- Overall: 8.89 high x 13.97 wide x 13.97cm deep, 5.4kg weight (3 1/2in. x 5 1/2in. x 5 1/2in., 12lb.)