Kuiper with crumbs on his face from a mostly eaten cake.

Vanguard 1 satellite

Kuiper poses with a model satellite made of cake. It is about as big as his head.

Kuiper enjoys a satellite cake. Second picture is the intact, museum-quality replica. 😉

This is a FULL SCALE MODEL of Vanguard 1, made entirely out of cake. You’re welcome. 😂 Vanguard 1 was America’s 2nd satellite in space. It is is the oldest man-made object still in orbit, and was launched on March 17th, 1958.

Although Vanguard 1 ended up being the 4th launched satellite instead of the 1st, it’s still an important part of history. The little 6.4 in craft was the 1st satellite with solar panels, allowing it to transmit for >6 years (Sputnik 1 lasted just 21 days.)

From Vanguard data, we confirmed our suspicions that the Earth is slightly pear-shaped rather than perfectly round. We also made a number of discoveries about our atmosphere. Although it is no longer transmitting, we can still track its orbit; it circles the Earth every 133 minutes. At the time of this writing, it’s cruising across the Indian Ocean and making a beeline for Australia.

Although the rocket that launched Vanguard 1 was retired in 1959 after launching Vanguards 2 and 3, it was notably the first time a “3 stage” rocket had been used to launch an object into space. We launched our first satellite (Explorer 1) with a 4 stage system, and the Soviets had used 2 stage rockets to launch Sputnuk 1 and 2. I will explain more about what that means and why we use stages in a separate post. For now, just know that 3 stages is what got us to the moon. 🌚

Not long after the launch of Vanguard 1, President Eisenhower would go on to sign the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which made NASA Officially A Thing. The bill became law on July 29, 1958, and NASA opened for business on October 1, 1958. On that day, NASA superceded NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (created in 1915.)

Although NACA’s military aviation research was critical to WWI & WWII, NASA was created as a purely civilian organization. The act which created NASA officially established in US law that “The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.”

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtrgtgnDFWN/

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