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U.S. Satellite Responses to Sputnik

Posted on Sun, June 12, 2016
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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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