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Many Moons

Jeffrey Syken

The earth has always had one satellite – the moon, its natural satellite. All that changed on October 4th 1957 when Sputnik-1 (Satellite-1) – the earth’s first artificial satellite, was successfully launched into earth-orbit triggering a “Sputnik Crisis” in America. After all, if the Soviets could put a twenty-three inch diameter satellite with a radio transmitter into earth orbit, couldn’t they also put nuclear weapons into orbit and rain-down destruction on America from space?

The launching of Sputnik was a wake-up call for America’s space efforts and it was the official start of the Space Age. To answer the challenge, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) in Huntsville Alabama, in cooperation with other government agencies and universities, retrofitted a Redstone rocket to carry an eleven-pound payload of scientific instruments and dubbed it Explorer 1. With the success of Explorer 1, the Space Race was on and in fairly quick succession additional Sputniks and Explorers were launched with more powerful rockets and ever more complex satellite packages.

In 1958, Project Echo sent a 100-foot diameter aluminized plastic balloon into an earth-orbit allowing for a telephone signal to be bounced off of it thus relaying a telephone call from New Jersey to California – it was a harbinger of greater things to come such as Telstar (1962) in the field of communication satellites. In 1960, NASA launched the first polar orbiting weather satellite and in later years the GOES satellites would, from geosynchronous orbit, monitor space weather. The Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) and the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO) surveillance satellites would keep tabs on earth resources and add significantly to the national defense. Ultimately, the “Satellite of Science’ – the International Space Station (ISS), would be the high-water mark of artificial satellite technology allowing for men and women from fifteen nations to live and work together for the greater good of all mankind.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials., deaeration, disinfection and ultraviolet irradiation.

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