The world’s oldest flying satellite

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Link here. It also happens to have been the fourth ever launched, and the second U.S. satellite, Vanguard 1.

Thanks to Kirk for reminding me that Vanguard 1 was not the first U.S. satellite, and was actually the fourth launched, not the second. All I needed to do to avoid the error was read my own Chronological Encyclopedia, but I was too lazy to do that, even though it is on my desk. Duh.



  • eddie willers


    As a kid, I remember watching ECHO cross the sky.

  • Chris

    Homework assignment:
    Do the reliability calls on that baby

  • Kirk

    I don’t understand the context of “second ever launched, and the first U.S. satellite.”

    1957-10-04 Sputnik 1 — reentered 1958-01-04 (last contact 1957-10-26)
    1957-11-03 Sputnik 2 (with Laika) — reentered 1958-04-14 (last contact 1957-11-10)
    1958-01-31 Explorer 1 — reentered 1970-03-31 (last contact 1958-05-23)
    1958-03-17 Vanguard 1(1st solar powered satellite) — reentry est. 2198 (last contact 1964-05)

    So Vanguard 1 is the fourth ever successfully launched satellite, and the second U.S. satellite.

  • Kirk: Whoops. A bit of laziness on my part produced this error. All I had to do was pull out my own copy of my Chronological Encyclopedia to find out that Vanguard 1 was #4. I did not.

    The post now is fixed.

  • Tom

    Using Heavens Above or some other software (I use Skymap Lite) for satellite observing, I have been able to see both Vanguard 1 and 2 using an 11′ telescope. Despite its size, it is about 11th magnitude and can be seen surprisingly easily. You just have to be looking at the exact place at the exact time.

  • Steve Earle

    I believe that a couple of the early Pioneer series are still functioning, are in solar orbits and are contacted occasionally. These are not quite as old but were launched in the 1960’s IIRC

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