The 100-foot-diameter (30.5 meter) satellite, designed by the Space Vehicle Group of the NASA Langley Research Center and constructed by General Mills of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was shown during ground inflation tests in 1959. NASA's Echo 1 satellite was built by Gilmore Schjeldahl's G.T. O’Sullivan’s original experimental balloon was only 30 inches in diameter. As you can see, this is the first time that I have returned to this site since my last post. Support for comments on nuggets was added in a later update, so many of our earlier nuggets got skipped over. Echo 1 was a passive satellite, used to reflect transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio, and television signals. The 30.5-meter (100 ft) diameter balloon was made of 0.5-mil-thick (12.7 μm) biaxially oriented PET film, metalized at a thickness of 0.2 micrometers (0.00787 mils) (a type of film commonly known by the trade name Mylar), and had a total mass of 180 kilograms (397 lb). [2] It also had 107.9 MHz telemetry beacons, powered by five nickel-cadmium batteries that were charged by 70 solar cells mounted on the balloon. It was as if everything was magic. The balloon satellite would function as a reflector, not a transceiver; after it was placed in a low Earth orbit, a signal could be sent to it, reflected by its surface, and returned to Earth. A number of government agencies, including the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), were eager to orbit an American satellite that would be visible over Russia as well as the United States.

These pulses pass through the water and bounce back off the bottom. Echo 2 was launched January 25, 1964, on a Thor Agena rocket.

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The spacecraft aided the calculation of atmospheric density and solar pressure, due to its large area-to-mass ratio. The satellite’s light weight and thin skin were required for it to be aerodynamically sensitive in the vacuum of the upper atmosphere. Therefore, the balloon was capable of maintaining its shape without a constant internal pressure; a long-term supply of inflation gas was not needed, and it could easily survive strikes from micrometeoroids. Echo 1A (commonly referred to as Echo 1) was successfully put into a orbit of 944 to 1,048 miles (1,519 to 1,687 km) by another Thor-Delta,[4][5] and a microwave transmission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was relayed by the satellite to Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey, on August 12, 1960.[2]. @JarvisLoop: Folks just don’t leave site comments very often these days, most people want to put their commentary on social media. The local newspaper would publish time and location when ECHO 1 or 2 would be overhead/visible. [8] Later passive communications satellites, such as OV1-08 PasComSat, solved the problems associated with this by using a grid-sphere design instead of a covered surface. [2] During the latter portion of its life, it was used to evaluate the technical feasibility of satellite triangulation.

Also, when this nugget was published, our nuggets did not yet support comments. Echo 1 was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral on August 12, 1960 and orbited the earth until May 1968. Weighing only 132 pounds, it consisted of a large sphere with a surface of Mylar plastic covered with vapor-deposited aluminum. [2] According to NASA, "To keep the sphere inflated in spite of meteorite punctures and skin permeability, a make-up gas system using evaporating liquid or crystals of a subliming solid were [sic] incorporated inside the satellite.
Schjeldahl Company in Northfield, Minnesota. Before it could be successfully launched, however, the Soviets had placed Sputnik in orbit and started the space race. NASA launched the Echo I communications balloon satellite on Aug. 12, 1960. All rights reserved.

In October 1959, primary management of Project Echo was assigned to Goddard Space Flight Center in suburban Maryland, NASA’s new center for space projects. The system consisted of two beacon assemblies powered by solar cell panels, and had a minimum power output of 45 mW at 136.02 MHz and 136.17 MHz.[7]. The spacecraft was nicknamed a "satelloon" by those involved in the project (a portmanteau combining satellite and balloon). Communication signals were bounced off them from one point on Earth to another. Even though Echo’s overall management became Goddard’s responsibility at that time, Echo was essentially a Langley project.

First passive communications satellite experiment, Echo 2 undergoing tensile stress test in a dirigible hangar at Weeksville, North Carolina, U.S. space exploration history on U.S. stamps, "Static Inflation Test of 135 Ft Satellite In Weeksville, NC", "Space Triumph. Each of the two American spacecraft, launched in 1960 and 1964, was a metalized balloon satellite acting as a passive reflector of microwave signals. We will never spam or share your email address. Echo acted as a passive reflector that relayed signals around the curvature of the earth, and provided instantaneous worldwide communications for the first time in August 1960. "[6] It was inflated to a pressure that caused the metal layers of the laminate to slightly plastically deform, while the polymer was still in the elastic range. On 13 May 1960, a NASA Thor-Delta rocket carried the agency’s new Echo 1 satellite into a 1,000 mile orbit around the Earth.
The first attempt to orbit an Echo satellite (also the maiden voyage of the Thor-Delta launch vehicle) miscarried when Echo 1 lifted off from Cape Canaveral's LC-17A on the morning of May 13, 1960. "[3] One of the powders weighed 10 pounds (4.5 kg), with a very high vapor pressure; the other had a much lower vapor pressure.[2]. Schjeldahl Company in Northfield, Minnesota. They also secretly served as an early rudimentary GPS system, using the balloons’ positions and instruments to calculate the exact location of Moscow for America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. • Science, History, & Psychology Since 2005 •. Both Echo 1A and Echo 2 experienced a solar sail effect due to their large size and low mass. AT&T Bell Labs video about the first voice transmission via satellite and the engineers who conducted the effort. Please do not distribute without written permission from Damn Interesting. Copyright © 12 February 2018 All Rights Reserved. Since it was larger than Echo 1A and orbiting in a near-polar orbit, Echo 2 was conspicuously visible to the unaided eye over all of the Earth. It required forty thousand pounds of air to fully inflate the sphere at sea level, but in the rarefied atmosphere in orbit it only required a few pounds of gas. At launch, the balloon weighed 156.995 pounds (71.212 kg), including 33.34 pounds (15.12 kg) of sublimating powders of two types. The new project was formally approved by the NACA in May 1958 and came to be known as Project Echo. Before the 12-foot model could be successfully launched, it had been transformed into a 100-foot communications satellite. This improved accuracy was sought by the U.S. military for the purpose of targeting intercontinental ballistic missiles. Holmdel Horn Antenna, constructed for Project Echo, and later used to discover the cosmic microwave background radiation.

[citation needed], During ground inflation tests, 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg) of air were needed to fill the balloon, but while in orbit, several pounds of gas were all that was required to fill the sphere.

Not only was it a “significant propaganda weapon” for the United States, but it also served as a “popular symbol of the peaceful and practical uses of space research.” In many ways, the Echo project changed prevailing conceptions of the potential for satellite communication systems, and encouraged subsequent private sector initiatives that have since transformed the field of communications. In October of 1952, the NACA approved development of the balloon at Langley as a contribution to the IGY.