SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbital Relay Equipment), launched on 18 December 1958 aboard an Atlas missile, was the first communications satellite.
Developed by the US Army Signal Corp, SCORE operated for 35 days. It proved that satellites could receive signals from one location on Earth and immediately retransmit to another, as well as receive a signal, store it on an onboard recorder, and then transmit on command from the ground. These technical accomplishments provided the basis for future communications satellites.
SCORE had an immediate public impact: President Eisenhower presented a Christmas message of good will and peace through SCORE that was beamed to countries around the world. The mission achieved another first: Placing an entire Atlas missile into earth orbit, a test of the rocket for military and space exploration uses. SCORE flew mounted in the Atlas' nosecone.
This artifact is a backup payload, originally transferred in 1965 from the US Army Signal Corps to the Smithsonian's Museum of History of Technology and then to NASM in 2003.