The second Echo passive communications satellite will be launched by the U.S. National Aeronautics and?
The second Echo passive communications satellite will be launched by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration on or after 23 January. The Echo II is a 135-foot balloon which will be used as a reflector off which radio signals can be bounced. Like Echo I, the new Echo will be visible to the naked eye.
It will be placed into a near-circular polar orbit by a Thro-Agena launch vehicle from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California (western U.S.). Once in orbit, a canister containing the collapsed balloon will be ejected, and the balloon inflated. This process will take place over the island of Madagascar.
Echo II, unlike its previous version, is made of Mylar plastic and aluminum. It is expected to be able to withstand the rigors of space and to remain spherical The earlier Echo gradually crumpled while in orbit.
Our film shows the balloon satellite under test. The huge bag is inflated in a former lighter-than-air craft hangar. Technicians use small balloons to lift themselves aloft to inspect the huge sphere. The balloon itself weighs 535 pounds.
The satellite is to be used in a series of joint communications experiments between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. These are expected to be carried out during 1964. Coincidentally, the first people to see the satellite will be citizens of the U.S.S.R.