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50 Years Ago

Science Past for February 28, 1959

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WEATHER SATELLITE ORBITING — The United States has launched into orbit the first baby weather station in space. It was hurled into its earth-circling path at 10:55 a.m.

Feb. 17, and its predicted lifetime is several decades. The batteries powering the radio transmitting weather information, however, have only a two-week lifetime. The 20-inch, 21.5-pound satellite was one unit in the Navy’s trouble-plagued Project Vanguard, originally scheduled to launch several satellites during the International Geophysical Year that ended last Dec. 31. It is now a National Aeronautics and Space Administration project. The satellite’s scientific equipment consists of two photocells designed to provide the first pictures of earth’s cloud cover.… The experiment represents a first step toward obtaining continuous weather mapping of global scope.

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