||Despite the success of Explorer
I and subsequent U.S. launches, President
Dwight D. Eisenhower's
Science Advisory Committee released a
report on March 26 that was less than
optimistic about the United States'
chances of sending a man to the Moon and
back. According to Introduction to
Outer Space, written by a committee
headed by James R. Killian, Jr., the
United States might be able to send a man
to the Moon and back within 10 to 20
years or might be able to do so before
the next century. The report also
included an estimate that it might cost
$2 billion for the first manned round
trip to the Moon.
Krafft Ehricke, space expert, explains
details of a four-manned space station
model to Lieutenant General Clarence
||January 31 The
United States Army launched America's
first satellite, Explorer
I, into orbit from Cape
Canaveral, Florida. The successful launch
came after two previous attempts had to
be aborted due to unfavorable weather, on
January 27 and 30.
Jupiter C missile which launched Explorer
I into orbit.
Right: Newspaper headlines
announcing the launch of the first U.S.
17 The United States Navy
launched Vanguard I into orbit
from Cape Canaveral. The 3-1/4-pound,
6.4-inch aluminum sphere's altitude was
2,466 miles at its highest point and 404
miles at its lowest.
technician turns the switch of two tiny
radio sets that broadcast on varying
frequencies to indicate temperatures of
the Vanguard satellite in its flight
around the Earth.
26 The U.S. Army launched Explorer
III into orbit from Cape Canaveral,
after Explorer II had failed to
achieve an orbit on March 5. The
79-inch-long cylindrical satellite
weighed 31 pounds and contained 11 pounds
of instruments, including a miniature
tape recorder to collect data on cosmic
ray density. Faulty firing of the
fourth-stage rocket of the Jupier-C
launch vehicle caused an eccentric orbit
that brought the satellite to within 125
miles of the Earth, indicating a short
Left: Miniature tape recorder
carried by Explorer III. Note
the paper clip in the foreground.
The Soviet Union launched a
2,925.53-pound earth satellite packed
with 2,129 pounds of instruments into
orbit. It was the heaviest object ever
put into orbit to that time.
9 and 23 Two Thor-Able missile
nose cones, each carrying a live mouse,
were shot approximately 600 miles into
space from Cape Canaveral. Radio signals
indicated their re-entry into the Earth's
atmosphere and plunge into the South
Atlantic 5,500-6,000 miles away, but
neither was recovered.
Left: One of
the two Thor-Able missile nose cones
Right: An Air Force scientist
holds the glass "house"
containing Wickie, a mouse carried by the
Thor-Able missile launched on July 23.
The U.S. Army sent the nation's fourth
satellite into orbit.
U.S. President Dwight
Eisenhower signed a bill creating
a civilian National Aeronautics and Space
||August 17 The
first confirmed attempt to place a
man-made object in orbit around the Moon
failed when an Able-1 rocket launched by
the U.S. Air Force from Cape Canaveral
was destroyed by an engine explosion 77
seconds after takeoff.
||August 24 The
U.S. Army failed to put the 37.52-pound Explorer
V into orbit around the Earth.
11 The U.S. Air Force launched a
52-ton Thor Able-1 rocket from Cape
Canaveral in a second unsuccessful
attempt to send an 82.7-pound
instrumented payload (Pioneer II)
to within 50,000 miles of the Moon.
Brilliantly lighted path of the Pioneer
II launch vehicle. The photograph was
a 30-second time exposure.
The U.S. Army failed to put an inflatable
satellite into orbit around the Earth.
8 The U.S. Air Force failed in a
third attempt to send a Pioneer vehicle
into orbit around the Moon.
The third attempt to send a Pioneer probe
to the vicinity of the Moon failed when
the third stage of the launch vehicle
U.S. Army scientists launched a
four-stage Juno II rocket from Cape
Canaveral, but this fourth attempt to
send an instrumented payload to the
vicinity of the Moon failed.
A 1-pound squirrel monkey was in the nose
cone of a U.S. Army rocket shot 600 miles
into space, but the nose cone was not
An instrumented earth satellite weighing
about 8,750 pounds was fired into orbit
by the U.S. Air Force from Cape
Canaveral. The satellite, an Atlas,
carried a pre-recorded 58-word message by
President Dwight E. Eisenhower.