Explorer 1 was the first American Satellite. It was launched on January 31, 1958.
The satellite carried a small scientific payload that eventually discovered the magnetic radiation belts around the Earth, named after principal investigator James Van Allen. The satellite also demonstrated that micrometeorites are not necessarily significant dangers in space travel near Earth. The Explorer program continued as a successful ongoing series of lightweight, scientifically useful spacecraft.
Explorer 1, the first U.S. spacecraft launched into orbit, was carried by a modified Army Ballistic Missile Agency Jupiter C missile named Juno 1 on January 31, 1958 from LC-26 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite was built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Explorer 1 satellite was six feet long,
cylindrical, and at 31 pounds, was about one thirty-sixth the size of the
Soviets' Sputnik 2.
Related: Sputnik 1
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Updated: Saturday 11th, January, 2014