Vanguard’s Sixty-Year Spaceflight Heritage Was Revealed

The International Geophysical Year (IGY) operated from July 1957 to December 1958. As the time passes, space industry continues to grow. However, it is also important to look back in the heritage of some space tycoons. During the IGY, the first satellites were revealed, and at the same time, NASA was formed. Ten years ago, there are many commemorations of previous satellite launches that were publicized. 

About this, there are many 60th anniversaries of space successes that were celebrated last year. The Naval Research Laboratory (NBL) had celebrated the Vanguard 1, the fourth satellite as well as the oldest one which is still in orbit on March 14. Six Vanguardians were there, and they are still bright and alert. Their children and grandchildren of the NRL Project Vanguard participants are also present. 

The Naval Center for Space Technology at NRL held a panel to celebrate the event and tackle its implications. Dr. David DeVorkin from the National Air and Space Museum talked about "Preserving NRL’s Design, Testing, and Engineering Legacy.”

NRL engaged a careful testing regime and utilize the tested parts in early upper atmospheric experiments. For them, testing is a culture, and the final test is about to launch. On the other hand, NASA tested parts to destruction and use the new parts for space launches and experiments. 

Dr. Michael Neufeld of the National Air and Space Museum is popularly known for his biography of Wernher von Braun. Here, he discussed “The Vanguard Decision: Why NRL Won and Why Von Braun Lost.” 

It is believed that the history of the Vanguard Satellite system will offer a case study to understand the value of industrial funding and working capital fund structures. These fund structures will allow researchers the latitude to tackle both short and long-term research objectives that are designed for the needs of a wide array of possible sponsors. These sponsors can help to build their vanguard systems. 

The said system was composed of three transmitters and six receiving stations along 33 degrees north latitude from San Diego to Georgia.  Wilhelm said that “A powerful transmitter in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, bounced a signal off the Moon and revealed that the Sputnik satellite had a large object behind it: the third stage. That led my dad to realize that the Soviets could have a spy satellite orbiting over the United States and we might know nothing about it since early radio tracking systems required a signal transmitted from the satellite.”