. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Vanguard 1 Marks 45 Years in Space

Vanguard I Satellite on Display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum
 Washington - Mar 17, 2003
Vanguard I, the world's longest orbiting man-made satellite, built by the Naval Research Laboratory and launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1958, will mark its 45th year in space on March 17. In the years following Vanguard's launch, the small satellite has made more than 178,061 revolutions of the earth and traveled over 5.1 billion nautical miles.

The first solar-powered satellite, Vanguard I was the second artificial satellite successfully placed in earth orbit by the United States. (Vanguard predecessors, Sputniks I and II and Explorer I have long since fallen out of orbit.) Just six inches in diameter and weighing just 3 pounds, Vanguard was described by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as "the grapefruit satellite."

As part of the scientific program for the International Geophysical Year (1957-58), NRL was officially delegated the responsibility of placing an artificial satellite with a scientific experiment into orbit around the earth. Designated Project Vanguard, the program was placed under Navy management and DoD monitorship.

NRL was responsible for developing the launch vehicles; developing and installing the satellite tracking system; and designing, constructing and testing the satellites.

The tracking system was called Minitrack. The Minitrack stations, designed, built and initially operated by NRL, were along a North-South line running along the east coast of North America and the west coast of South America. Minitrack was the forerunner of another NRL-developed system called NAVSPASUR, which is operational today and a major producer of spacecraft tracking data.

In late 1958, responsibility for Project Vanguard was transferred to NASA, forming the nucleus of the Goddard Space Flight Center. After the transfer, NRL rebuilt their spacecraft technology capability and have developed some 87 satellites over the past 40 years for the Navy, DoD and NASA. NRL's relationship with NASA is still very active; for example, NRL is currently developing the Interim Control Module for NASA's International Space Station.

Vanguard met 100 percent of its scientific objectives, providing a wealth of information on the size and shape of the earth, air density, temperature ranges and micrometeorite impact. It proved that the earth is pear-shaped, not round; corrected ideas about the atmosphere's density at high altitudes and improved the accuracy of world maps.

NRL space scientists say that the Vanguard I program introduced much of the technology that has since been applied in later U.S. satellite programs, from rocket launching to satellite tracking. For example, it proved that solar cells could be used for several years to power radio transmitters. Vanguard's solar cells operated for about seven years, while conventional batteries used to power another onboard transmitter lasted only 20 days.

Although Vanguard's solar-powered "voice" became silent in 1964, it continues to serve the scientific community.

Ground-based tracking of the satellite provides data concerning the effects of the sun, moon and atmosphere on satellite orbits.

Related Links
Vanguard Project
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Space Link Extension Transfer Services
 Washington - Feb 12, 2003
ESA and NASA are utilizing a pioneering cross-support capability known as the Space Link Extension (SLE) transfer services for the International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) mission.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.