When Avant-Garde Fails

When Avant-Garde Fails

On December 6, 1957, the Vanguard rocket was on the launch pad of Cape Canaveral in Florida. The payload at the top of the rocket was the TV-3 satellite, which was designed to balance forces in the space field between the United States and the Soviet Union. The latter took the lead in a promising space race by launching Sputnik-2 a month earlier.

At sixteen minutes before noon, Vanguard roared. It seemed that he began to rise, but then the system failed. The rocket lost its thrust and collapsed. Vanguard burst into flames. The satellite was discarded and began to clearly send its signal to the whole world. It was a busy day for the media.

The history of Avant-garde usually ends at this unsuccessful start, but the program itself has not ceased to exist.

Satellite Avangard was launched when America took part in 1957-58. in the International Geophysical Year, when scientists from around the world joined forces to study the Sun in a period of high solar activity. The US National Security Council approved the United States IGY satellite in 1955, and President Eisenhower chose the Vanguard rocket as the technology capable of delivering this satellite. The idea was to use a civilian supersonic rocket rather than re-create a new one, thus isolating space exploration from the country's weapons development program. After an unsuccessful attempt to launch the first satellite of America, there were other Vanguard missiles and satellites ready for flight. Each launch had only 50% success rate to safely deliver its payload to orbit, so several satellites had to be launched.

The second launch of Vanguard was not much better than the first; the satellite was unable to go into orbit on February 5, 1958.

The third attempt was successful. The Avant-garde rocket successfully launched the Avangard-1 satellite into orbit on March 17, 1958.

The spacecraft, which was typical for that time, was rather small and simple. Avant-garde 1 was a 3.24 pound aluminum sphere slightly less than 6.5 cm in diameter. Inside the sphere were two transmitters, one powered by a battery of mercury, and the other from six square solar cells mounted outside on the satellite body. These transmitters mainly tracked satellite data, but their second purpose was to determine the electron content between Avangard-1 and ground stations. The satellite also had two thermistors on board, aimed at collecting data on its internal temperature for 16 days. These data helped scientists determine the effectiveness of the Avangard-1 thermal protection system. This connection between the satellites and the Earth was carried out using six-foot antennas.

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