At Cape Canaveral - America's number one rocket testing ground - Visnews filmed the launching of the first US weather satellite Feb 17.
At Cape Canaveral - America's number one rocket testing ground - Visnews filmed the launching of the first US weather satellite Feb 17. A Vanguard rocket soared aloft in an attempt to put into orbit what is described as a "weather eye", and a "cloudnik".
The payload was a shiny 21 1/2 lb sphere housing delicate instruments including two light-sensitive photoelectric cells designed to spot the earth's cloud cover as the tiny moon speeds along its orbital path. Scientists hope to fashion a crude weather map from the flight log signalled back from a minute tape recorder, so that storm warnings may be given to sea, land and air traffic.
Spurting a glowing trail of orange flame the 22,600 lb missile - 90% of its weight were taken up by the fuel - climbed steadily for about ten seconds before cutting through a blanket of grey storm of clouds.
The first-stage rocket was to burn out at an altitude of 38 miles, 2 1/2 minutes after launching. The second stage - the guiding "brain" of the Vanguard - was then to go into action for a full two minutes boosting the payload's speed to 9,000 mph.
After a coasting flight the third stage was to ignite accelerating the satellite to the velocity needed for orbiting the earth 16 times each 24 hours.
Vanguard II has meanwhile been reported to be working perfectly sending information to tracking stations. According to Dr. John Hagen, head of Vanguard Project, the batteries are likely to last only about a fortnight but future satellites will have long-lasting solar batteries.