Explorer 1

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"Explorer 1" is the second episode of "Beginnings Of The Space Age". The 60-minute documentary reveals how JPL and the U.S. Army could have been the first to place a satellite into Earth orbit, had they only been given the chance. That opportunity was lost when the Eisenhower administration, unsure of what the Soviet reaction would be to a satellite launched (in part) by the U.S. Army military, hesitated and assigned the project to a civilian-led program called Vanguard. The Soviet Union lauched Sputnik in October 1957, shocking the world and creating the "Race for Space" in the midst of the Cold War. Only after the Vanguard rocket exploded on the launch pad were JPL and the U.S. Army given its chance. The result was Explorer 1, the first successful U.S. satellite, which also achieved the first space science results.

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I have always been enthusiastic for and inspired by the 'Space Race' and space exploration. This show tonight about 'Explorer 1,' America's first earth orbiting satellite, goes back to before I was born, but intrigues me. We all know about Sputnik to this day, but Explorer 1 is mostly forgotten and rarely mentioned - until tonight! I can't emotionally relate to the cold war tensions and superpowers in desperate competition, but hope to, and no doubt will, know a lot more about the year I was born (1958) after tonight. Thanks KCET