1 February 2008
Reading the comments on the Explorer I Spacecraft by Roy (W0SL) and Dan (N8FGV) has certainly stimulated lots of old memories.
In late 1983 I attended a presentation by James Van Allen at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in DC convened to celebrate 25 years in space. At this point in time the development of the Space Transportation System (The Shuttle) was being seriously debated.
Most (!!!) scientists of the era thought the program was a political boondoggle whose costs would seriously impede the progress of real space science. As Van Allen, a spokesperson for this group, put it (my paraphrase) -- These guys claim they're going to reduce my launch costs by a factor of 100 by taking a scientific instrument with a one cubic foot volume, putting it in a bus and adding all the life support systems necessary for five people.
These past few weeks we've seen spectacular photos of Mercury taken by the Messenger Spacecraft on its first flyby of the planet. How many people realize that the Messenger mission is the follow on to NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft which mapped about 45 percent of the Mercury's surface during three flybys in 1974 and 1975. Because (?) of the Shuttle Program it took us more than three decades to return.
de K2ubc (Martin Davidoff)
If I'm not mistaken this is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Explorer I, the USA's first satellite put in orbit. I listened to the telemetry broadcast on 108 mHz and recorded it. The JPL had asked for the loan of any recordings made so I sent them out for their analysis. I received my original tapes back along with a supply of new reels of tape for use in making further recordings. JPL sent copies on to the Air Force Research Center at Cambridge.
I later received letters from JPL and the Air Force Research Center describing the data they had recovered from the recordings relative to micrometeorite impacts and other items. It was a really exciting period
for Amateur Radio.