After the failure of the Vanguard, Werhner von Braun's German Rocket Team was given a shot at launching a satellite into space. Explorer 1 was born, and it was successfully launched on January 31. Explorer 1 became the first American satellite in space. T
he scientific instruments aboard the Explorer also detected the Van Allen Belts that surround the Earth.
Following the success of Explorer 1, Vanguard 1 was successfully launched on March 17. Vanguard 1 had been outfitted with 2 transmitters. By plotting its orbit, scientists were able to determine valuable information on the shape and mass distribution of t
Following the failure of Explorer 2, Explorer 3, which carried a data recorder, was successfully launched on March 26. Once in orbit, it confirmed the presence of the Van Allen Belts, as well as detect the presence of micrometeoroids.
Sputnik 3 was successfully launched on May 15 after an initial failure on February 3. It weighed 3000 pounds and contained 2130 pounds of scientific instruments. Besides confirming the existence of the Van Allen Belts, Sputnik 3 also discovered that the i
nner belts were made up of high-energy protons. It measured the density, pressure and temperature of the upper atmosphere, and proved that the micrometeoroids detected by Explorer 3 were not that much of a hazard.
Formation of NASA
NASA was formed on July 29, when President Eisenhower signed the Public Law 85-568, the National Aeronautic and Space Act. NASA was dedicated to peaceful exploration and the development of new technology.
The 4th Explorer satellite was successfully launched on July 26 and once again confirmed and relayed data on the Van Allen Belts back to Earth.
A series of Vanguard failures occurred between April and September. Premature ignition of the various stages and insufficient thrust was the main culprit here.
Pioneer 1 was successfully launched on October 11, but its 3rd stage failed and as a result, Pioneer 1 never reached the Moon. Although it failed its primary mission, Pioneer 1 still managed to map the Van Allen Belts and measure the Earth's magnetic fiel
A different launcher rocket was used to launch Pioneer 3 on December 6. However, it too failed to reach the Moon and burned up on return to the Earth's atmosphere.
First communications satellite
On December 18, 1958 the U.S. Army launched the first communications satellite into orbit. This was not a true communications satellite in that no real communications were passed from one person to another, but rather it transmitted President Eisenhower's
recorded Christmas Greetings to the world and his hope for peace.