Can you imagine what it would be like if we never landed on the moon? How would we get all of these great observations about our planet? Most likely, we would have to rely on satellites which were actually the first things to go into space.
The first satellite, Sputnik, was launched by the Soviet Union (now Russia) on October 4, 1950—exactly 67 years ago today. While only the size of a beach ball, that first satellite forever changed space exploration and set the stage for the space race between the USSR and the United States.
Here’s a quick timeline of satellite launches and notable events:
• 1955 Esco Products first catalog is distributed to help astronomy enthusiasts create their own telescopes.
• 1957 1st satellite: Sputnik 1 (USSR) October 4th
• 1957 2nd satellite: Sputnik 2 (USSR) November 3rd
• 1958 3rd satellite: Explorer 1 (USA) January 31st
-The Unites States entered the game late, but made quick strides in communication and exploration.
4th satellite: Vanguard 1 (USA), 5th Explorer 3 (USA), 6th Sputnik 3 (USSR).
• 1958 7th satellite: Score (USA) December 18th.
-The world’s first communication satellite, it was used to conduct the inaugural test of a communications relay system in space, and deliver a recorded message from President Eisenhower.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, more than 30 satellites made their way to space from a variety of countries. Each launch brought breakthrough technological advancements ranging from communication and television broadcasting to the collection and transmission of scientific data.
A global satellite network
Fast forward to 2017, and information flows as fast as your fingers can type—and often faster. And much of that data flows from, or through, satellites. Today, there are more than 4,000 satellites orbiting over our heads.
Tracking space junk
To get a better idea of all of what that looks like,check out this interesting piece from James Yoder’s “Stuff in Space” website. Currently, there are so many satellites—and pieces of space junk—floating in orbit that NASA has a dedicated team exclusively tracking orbital debris.
We don’t like the idea that some of our optics are now pieces of space junk, but we’re proud to have played an important role in space exploration. In the end, we think it’s a worthwhile tradeoff. It’s been an honor to help create some of the advancements that have sparked curiosity and wonder, and have unlocked the human imagination.
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