Thursday, August 19, 2010

50 YA - A Volley of Rocket launches

Soviet stamp commemorating the launch of Korabl-Sputnik 2.

On August 18, 1960, there were several launches from the U.S. From Vandenberg Air Force Base, Discovery XIV lifted off on a Thor-Agena rocket into orbit. The 300-pound satellite orbited the Earth for over 94 minutes. Besides testing equipment, it also included external lights for visual tracking.

From Cape Canaveral, the Army tried to launch a Courier I-A communications satellite on a Thor-Able rocket. When it reached 15 miles in altitude, it became unstable and so the ranger safety officer was given the order to destroy the rocket. On the same day, also from the Cape, the Navy successfully launched a Polaris test missile on a 1,100-mile flight into the Atlantic.

The Tiros I communication satellite came back into operation after a 7-week lapse of silence. It was not expected that a picture could be obtained at this point.

Then on August 19, 1960, the Soviet Unit scored another successful launch: Sputnk V. Called Korabl-Sputnik by the Soviets, this spaceship satellite carried two dogs, Strelka and Belka, and a host of smaller animals. A TV camera sent back pictures of the animals in their restraints. The orbit period was 90 minutes long and stayed in space for a day. The animals were safely recovered by capsule parachute. One of Strelka's puppies later on was given to President Kennedy's wife, Jacqueline, as a present!

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