You are here

Shell, Reentry Capsule, Datasphere


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This is a duplicate of the phenolic resin heat shield that covered the Datasphere, the first instrumented package to be recovered from space by the United States. Launched by a U.S. Air Force Thor ballistic missile on 13 June 1958 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, it recorded information such as temperatures, pressures, and stresses critical to progress in the nation's spaceflight programs. The Datasphere reached an altitude of over 200 miles. Protected by the heat shield, it reentered the atmosphere at more than 10,000 miles an hour and was recovered intact in the South Atlantic. General Electric made this artifact and the Air Force donated it to NASM in 1959.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Transferred from the United States Air Force.


Phenolic resin, metal wire and electrical connector


Overall: 1ft 6in. (45.72cm)

Country of Origin

United States of America


SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Instruments & Payloads

Inventory Number


Related Topics