The 2012 season of the Exploring Space Lecture Series at the National Air and Space Museum will be devoted to "The Explorers: Cutting-Edge Science on a Budget." The longest-running name in the realm of scientific satellites in the known universe, the term "Explorer" has been assigned to a variety of spacecraft. The series began in January 1958 with the launch of Explorer 1 by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, and has been continued by NASA in various forms for over a half century. This year the lectures will concentrate on some of the most successful applications of the Explorer-class missions — those devoted to astronomy in the recent past and at present. Recent Explorers, such as WMAP, have established the era of precision observational cosmology. Swift has been catching violent stellar collisions in the act of producing gamma ray bursts. The International Ultraviolet Explorer made a space-borne telescope accessible to thousands of astronomers worldwide. And the Kepler Spacecraft is finding planets just like Earth.