Explorer 1: America’s First Satellite and the Future of Exploration


Most of us know Explorer one as America’s first satellite, what not everyone realizes is it’s really the first scientific spacecraft It made the first scientific discoveries in space as it explored the Van Allen radiation belts And what they did was create for NASA for America’s space program a scientific basis. It represents an achievement really in 1958 as great as Cassini or Curiosity is today to us. And for us here at JPL It moved us away from building rockets from working on getting stuff into space to building the spacecraft themself. It makes us proud to look back on Explorer one and realize that JPL built that before NASA was an agency And it’s great to realize that we played such a key role in the development of the space program for the u.s. One of the challenges when we look back at Explorer 1 is how difficult it was to even get anything into space And you know today we still worry about launch Still worry is there going to be a launch failure worry about the early deployment of the spacecraft. Of course in those days there had never been a satellite launched by the U.S. that successfully got to orbit and operating You know it is amazing for us to realize how Aggressive they were and how bold they were in pushing Explorer 1 forward and making it be successful It reminds us to be bold and to take chances and to be aggressive and uh you know to seek the biggest challenges that we can Look for life on other planets. look for life under the ice sight at Europa, look for life on Mars, find another earth that’s an exoplanet. I mean those are the kind of challenges we want and that’s what we live for here and It reminds us they were the same way back in 1958

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