An orbiting astronomical observatory is scheduled to be launched Monday afternoon (28 March) at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
An orbiting astronomical observatory is scheduled to be launched Monday afternoon (28 March) at Cape Kennedy, Florida. The two-ton observatory - the heaviest unmanned satellite built in the United States - will soar into space on the tip of an Atlas-Agena rocket.
Once settled into a five-hundred mile high orbit, the satellite will unfold two solar panels, and slowly point its head toward a desired part of the heavens. Then, like a huge eyelid, a protecting sunshade covering the astronomical satellite's telescopes will open and the space eye will go to work.
Inside the satellite's hollow core are telescopes to gather light from the sky and focus it into television camera. The images will be stored on tape and later radioed to Earth to be processed by computer and portrayed on charts and graphs.
The satellite should give man his first telescopic glimpse of the universe without the interference of Earth's atmosphere, which distorts the shapes ad colours of celestial bodies. If the satellite is successfully orbited, it is expected to help resolve the mystery of how the universe was formed and how stars and galaxies are born. Many experts contend the astronomical observatory will be as significant to astronomy as the invention of the telescope.