Explorer 1’s 50th Anniversary
It was December 6th, 1957. Americans turned on their TVs hoping to see the American answer to Sputnik. The Soviets in October had launched Sputnik 1 and shocked the world. They followed up Sputnik 1 with Sputnik 2, a much larger craft occupied by the space faring dog Laika, on November 3rd 1957. America was behind in the Space Race. Back in August an Ad Hoc committee had rejected Von Braun’s Jupiter C proposal in favor of the Navy Vanguard program. As eager Americans watched on TV on December 6th the Vanguard craft rose from the pad at Cape Canaveral only to explode after only 2 seconds.The government then turned to Werner Von Braun and his Jupiter C rocket to get the job done. On January 31st 1958 the Juno 1 Jupiter C rocket rose off the pad and placed Explorer 1 into orbit. There was no TV coverage this time….just in case. Upon hearing the news, America released a collective sigh.
Learn more from these links: