Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age

Chronology of Sputnik/Vanguard/Explorer Events 1957-58

  • 1957

  • October 4, 1957

    USSR:

    Sputnik (83.6 kg) launched

  • November 3, 1957

    USSR:

    Sputnik II (508.3 kg), with dog Laika as passenger, launched

  • December 6, 1957

    USA:

    Vanguard TV-3 explodes on launch pad

  • 1958

  • February 3, 1958

    USSR:

    First try to launch Sputnik III fails

  • February 5, 1958

    USA:

    A second Vanguard try fails

  • March 5, 1958

    USA:

    Explorer 2 fails to orbit

  • March 17, 1958

    USA:

    Vanguard 1 (1.47 kg) successfully orbits, establishes the pear-shapedness of Earth

  • March 26, 1958

    USA:

    Explorer 3 orbits, collects radiation and micrometeoroid data

  • April 28, 1958

    USA:

    Another Vanguard fails to orbit (third failure)

  • May 15, 1958

    USSR:

    Sputnik III (1,327 kg) orbits, carrying large array of scientific instruments, but tape recorder fails, so it can't map Van Allen belts

  • May 27, 1958

    USA:

    Vanguard fails for the fourth time

  • June 26, 1958

    USA:

    Vanguard fails for the fifth time

  • July 26, 1958

    USA:

    Explorer 4 orbits and maps Van Allen radiation belts for 2 1/2 months

  • August 24, 1958

    USA:

    Explorer 5 fails to orbit

  • September 26, 1958

    USA:

    Vanguard fails for the sixth time