Space Junk: Vanguard 1

Space Junk: Vanguard 1Debris in space is a growing concern. Space Junk has made a necessity of cataloging space objects, the launch of a surveillance satellite, and will result in more near earth collisions. Vanguard 1 launched on March 17, 1958, the fourth artificial satellite and first to use solar cells(pictured), remains in medium earth orbit at a minimum altitude 400 miles above Earth. The orbit insures the satellite remains aloft for centuries and the oldest surviving man-made object in space.

At the time of launch, for perspective, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre first aired “the Sharpshooter,” which later ran as a series, “The Rifleman“. This was a Navy launch as NASA only became operational on October 1, 1958. “Tequila” by the Champs became a surprise hit and number 1 song on pop charts.

Vanguard 1, six inches in diameter and a weight of three pounds, was dubbed the grapefruit satellite” by Nikita Kruschev an unfavorable comparison to the more muscular 200lb. Sputnik. Vanguard 1 has orbited the Earth over 200,000 times. Will private enterprise clean up space with salvage operations? A small Vanguard 1 would make a great piece of space memorabilia! There are over 20,000 large objects in earth orbit. Will smaller objects provide plausible cover for laser fire by parties engaged in covert space wars?

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