Thursday, November 08, 2007
50-Years Ago von Braun Gets Go to Launch America into Space
Dr. Wernher von Braun's Redstone Arsenal rocket team got the go to launch Explorer-1 fifty years ago today after a month of anguish in Washington political circles about the accomplishments of the Soviet Union with the orbital success of Sputnik-1 and Sputnik-2.
Historians now document that the von Braun's rocket engineering group had the vehicle to place a satellite around the Earth for the better part of a year before the Soviets. It was known as the Jupiter-C.
The Juno-1, as it became to be known, launched America's first orbital satellite - the Explorer-1, on 31 January 1958. It could have been launched as soon as September 1956 many accounts say.
Historians now suggest that President Dwight D. Eisenhower intentionally held back American space technology to allow the Soviets to orbit the first spacecraft, Sputnik-1, so as to enable the "Open Skies" policy of free flying orbital satellites. Eisenhower wanted space to be free of geopolitical territorial overflight claims. Thereby, the President allowed the Russians to go first.