NASA’s first Orbiting Geophysical Observatory to burn up in atmosphere

The first of six Orbiting Geophysical Observatories, dubbed OGO-1, is set to to burn up in the atmosphere sometime in the next week.

Launched September 5, 1964, OGO-1 operated until 1969. It along with the five later OGO satellites were designed to study the Earth’s magnetic field as well as the Van Allen Belts across a solar minimum and maximum. Together they proved the magnetosphere was homogeneous, somewhat the same wherever data was obtained.

As the first such observatory, the spacecraft was also a technology test. Thus, the failure of its attitude control system, preventing about half its instruments from gathering data, was not really a failure. It laid the groundwork for all such research satellites to follow over the next half century.