Encyclopedia Astronautica
Explorer A



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Explorer 1
Explorer 1 / Explorer A
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Pickering, Van Allen, and Von Braun hold a model of Explorer 1 in triumph at a post-flight press conference.
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Lift-off of Explorer 1
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Jupiter C / Explorer 1 mission
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Explorer 1 cutaway
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Explorer 1 being mounted on the pad
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
Explorer 1 atop the Jupiter-C on the pad
Credit: NASA
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Explorer 1
The launch room during the Explorer 1 launch
Credit: NASA
American earth magnetosphere satellite. 3 launches, 1958.02.01 (Explorer 1) to 1958.03.26 (Explorer 3). Discovered Van Allen radiation belts. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space.

Gross mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb).
First Launch: 1958.02.01.
Last Launch: 1958.03.26.
Number: 3 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Redstone Redstone was the first large liquid rocket developed in the US using German V-2 technology. Originally designated Hermes C. Redstones later launched the first US satellite and the first American astronaut into space. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Redstone Redstone was the first large liquid rocket developed in the US using German V-2 technology. Originally designated Hermes C. Redstones later launched the first US satellite and the first American astronaut into space. More...
  • Jupiter C American orbital launch vehicle. Re-entry vehicle test booster and satellite launcher derived from Redstone missile. The Jupiter A version of the Redstone missile was modified with upper stages to test Jupiter re-entry vehicle configurations. Von Braun's team was ordered to ballast the upper stage with sand to prevent any 'inadvertent' artificial satellites from stealing thunder from the official Vanguard program. Korolev's R-7 orbited the first earth satellite instead. The Jupiter C was retroactively named the 'Juno I' by Von Braun's team. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • US Army American agency overseeing development of spacecraft. US Army, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Explorer Series of satellites launched by Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the exploration of the space environment (micrometeoroids, charged particles, radiation, etc) from both earth orbital and heliocentric orbital locations. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ordway, Frank, and Sharpe, Mitchell, The Rocket Team, Collector's Guide Publishing, Ontario, Canada, 2000.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • Grimwood, James M., Project Mercury: A Chronology, NASA Special Publication-4001.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC5 Redstone, Jupiter launch complex. Pad 5 supported its first Jupiter A launch on 19 July 1956. In addition to Redstone and Jupiter launches, the complex supported Explorer and Pioneer missions and all six Redstone /Mercury suborbital flights. On 31 January 1964, Complexes 5 and 6 were reassigned to become part of the USAF Space Museum. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC26A Redstone, Jupiter launch complex. The LC-26 dual launch pad complex was constructed for the U.S. Army's Redstone and Jupiter missile programs in 1956-1957. At least 36 Redstone, Jupiter, Jupiter C and Juno II launches were conducted 1957-1964. More...

Explorer A Chronology


1954 June 25 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C.
  • Project Orbiter begun. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Spacecraft: Explorer A. In a meeting, Dr. Wernher von Braun, Frederick C. Durant III, Alexander Satin, David Young, Dr. Fred L. Whipple, Dr. S. Fred Singer, and Commander George W. Hoover agreed that a Redstone rocket with a Loki cluster as the second stage could launch a satellite into a 200-mile orbit without major new developments. This became a joint Army-Navy study project after meeting at Redstone Arsenal on August 3. Project Orbiter was a later outgrowth of this proposal and resulted in the launching of Explorer I on January 31, 1958.

1954 August 15 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C.
  • Von Braun proposes launch of US satellite. - . Payload: Explorer A. Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Summary: Von Braun report 'A Minimum Satellite Vehicle Based on Components Available from Developments of the Army Ordnance Corps' in response to June Pentagon meeting proposes $ 100,000 to launch satellite by Redstone..

1955 August 24 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C.
  • Redstone recommended as satellite launcher. - . Payload: Explorer A. Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Research and development Policy Council (DOD) unanimously recommended that the time-risk factor in the scientific satellite program be brought to the attention of the Secretary of the Defense for determination as to whether a Redstone backup program was indicated.

1957 October 5 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C.
  • Von Braun promises first US satellite in 60 days. - . Payload: Explorer A. Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; McElroy; Medaris. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Summary: Von Braun briefs Secretary of Defence McElroy on Jupiter-C/Redstone for immediate US satellite launch. Promises launch in 60 days. Medaris says 90..

1958 February 1 - . 03:47 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC26A. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C. LV Configuration: Jupiter C/Juno I RS-29.
  • Explorer 1 - . Payload: Explorer A. Mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Agency: USA. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Decay Date: 1970-03-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 4 . COSPAR: 1958-Alpha-1. Apogee: 1,859 km (1,155 mi). Perigee: 347 km (215 mi). Inclination: 33.2000 deg. Period: 107.20 min. Explorer I, the first U.S. earth satellite, was launched by a modified Army Ballistic Missile Agency Jupiter-C. Explorer I, developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, carried the U.S.-IGY (International Geophysical Year) experiment of James A. Van Allen and resulted in the discovery of the radiation belt around the earth.

1958 March 5 - . 18:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC26A. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C. LV Configuration: Jupiter C/Juno I RS/CC-26. FAILURE: Fourth Stage failed to ignite.. Failed Stage: 4.
  • Explorer 2 - . Payload: Explorer A. Mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Agency: USA. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Decay Date: 1958-03-05 . COSPAR: F580305A.

1958 March 26 - . 17:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter C. LV Configuration: Jupiter C/Juno I RS-24.
  • Explorer 3 - . Payload: Explorer A. Mass: 5.00 kg (11.00 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Agency: USA. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Explorer A. Decay Date: 1958-06-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 6 . COSPAR: 1958-Gamma-1. Apogee: 2,799 km (1,739 mi). Perigee: 186 km (115 mi). Inclination: 33.4000 deg. Period: 115.70 min. Summary: Radiation, micrometeoroid data. .

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