May 23

Space Rocket History #13 – Explorer 1 – Juno 1

At approximately 12:48 a.m. EST, the first listening stations began reporting that they had received radio signals from the “Explorer” satellite. The first station to confirm the signals was the San Gabriel Valley Amateur Radio Club near Pasadena, California.  However, ABMA officials were waiting for confirmation from the Goldstone radio tracking station in Earthquake Valley, California.  Finally, 1 hour and 57 minutes after launch the confirmation was finally relayed to ABMA officials in the form of the simple phrase, “Goldstone has the bird!”

exlaunch1958

Explorer 1 – Jupiter C Launch

exlaunch

On the Pad

ex

Pre-Launch

ex1

Explorer 1 Satellite

 

206689main_van-allen-516

Van Allen

206623main_pickering-273

Pickering

206615main_medaris-516 (1)

Medaris

206619main_pic-516

Explorer 1 Satellite

207199main_conference-516

Pickering, Van Allen, Von Braun Holding Satellite

206607main_launch-516 206601main_explorer-stand-516

May 16

Space Rocket History #12 – Vanguard TV3 – Flopnik

It seemed as if the gates of hell had opened up.  Brilliant stiletto flames shot out from the side of the rocket near the engine. The vehicle agonizingly hesitated for a moment, quivered again, and in front of our unbelieving eyes, began to topple. It sank like a great flaming sword down into the blast tube it toppled slowly breaking apart, hitting part of the test guard and ground with a tremendous roar that could be felt and heard even behind the 2 food concrete wall of the blockhouse. For a moment or two there was complete disbelief. I could see it in the faces. I could feel it myself.”  

Vang1

Vanguard TV3 Launch

Vang2

Vanguard TV3 Diagram

Vang4

Vanguard Satellite

May 09

Space Rocket History #11 – Sputnik 2 – Laika: The Space Dog

Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit and was the first to launch a living creature. The satellite was a 4 meter high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters. It contained several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, a regeneration and temperature control system for the cabin, and scientific instruments. A separate sealed cabin contained the first space passenger Laika, the space dog. Engineering and biological data were transmitted by the telemetry system to Earth for 15 minutes of each 103 minute orbit.  Two spectrophotometers were on board for measuring solar radiation and cosmic rays. A television camera was mounted in the passenger compartment to observe Laika.

Laika Stamp Laika Laika-Sputnik-2 sputnik-2 sputnik2_design_1 Sputnik2_vsm


Laika, 1957 from KC Giessen on Vimeo.

May 02

Space Rocket History #10 – The Space Race

On October 4th 1957, the Soviet Union demonstrated that it had to be taken seriously. Only a few years prior they had lagged the US badly in both bombers and Nuclear weapons. Now, there was deep concern that the Soviet’s could launch a nuclear attack on the US with their new R-7 ICBM. To add fuel to the fire, Just 4 days after Sputnik launched the Soviet Union detonated a 20 megaton Hydrogen bomb.

“The success of the Russian Sputnik was convincing and dramatic proof to people around the world of the real prospects of space travel in the not too distant future. The fact that a 23-in. sphere weighing 184 lb has been placed in an almost precise circular orbit indicates that a number of important technological problems such as high thrust rocket engines, lightweight missile structures, accurate guidance, stable autopilot control, and large scale launching methods have been solved, at least to the degree required for a satellite project.” Astronautics, Nov 1957.

NewsPaper1 sputniklifex-large


newspapers r7-sputnik

 

 

Apr 18

Space Rocket History #8 – Redstone

By the late 1940’s, it became obvious that Army ballistic missile research activities required more room than what was available at Fort Bliss, Texas. After a long and through search the decision was made to move to the Redstone arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama. A farm town know for watercress, cotton and mosquitoes. The Redstone Arsenal was chosen for several reasons: it was on a large tract of government property, its location on the Tennessee River gave it access to the electrical power of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the climate was good, and it was not too far from Cape Canaveral, whose long range proving ground was growing in importance.  

First_Redstone_Rocket_Firing

Redstone

Loki-dart_display

Loki

Viking

Viking

Jupiter_c_pad

Jupiter

Apr 11

Space Rocket History #7 – Inter-service Rivalries

It’s important to understand that in the late 1940s within the United States there were three concurrent programs for military rocket development. This was due to continuing inter-service rivalry between the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

v2Wac Corporal

Bumper-WAC

270px-Hermes_A-1_Test_Rockets_-_GPN-2000-000063

A-1

Aerobee

Aerobee

WAC_Corporal

WAC Corporal

Viking

Viking

 

MX-774

MX-774

 

Apr 04

Space Rocket History #6 – The Competition

“The Americans have unified their forces into a single thrust, and make no secret of their plans to dominate outer space. But we keep our plans secret even to ourselves…”  Sergei Korolev the Founder of the Soviet Space Program.

Korolevr7cut

Mar 27

Space Rocket History #5 – Escaping the Reich

“In 1937, I was officially demanded to join the National Socialist Party. At this time I was already Technical Director at the Army Rocket Center at Peenemünde. The technical work carried out there had, in the meantime, attracted more and more attention in higher levels. Thus, my refusal to join the party would have meant that I would have to abandon the work of my life. Therefore, I decided to join. My membership in the party did not involve any political activity.”  Werner von Braun, 1947.

Peenemünde, Dornberger, Olbricht, Leeb, v. Braun

Werner von Braun at Peenedmunde