U.S. Satellite Responses to Sputnik

Posted on Sun, June 12, 2016

Launched quickly after Sputnik, the first U.S. test satellite failed when its Vanguard launch rocket exploded. It took almost two months before an Army missile launched Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. The first successful U.S. satellite contained a cosmic ray detector, a radio transmitter, and temperature and micrometeoroid sensors. Its flight marked America’s entry in the space race, a new Cold War competition.

  • Successful Launch of Explorer I

    Launch of Jupiter-C/Explorer 1 at Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 31, 1958. 

  • Vanguard Explosion

    The first U.S. satellite launch effort failed spectacularly when its Vanguard rocket exploded during liftoff on December 6, 1957.

  • First Explorer Satellite
    William H. Pickering (left), James A. van Allen (center), and (right) Wernher von Braun assist in the orbiting of the first Explorer satellite.

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