December 19, 2007 - 6:17 am - Posted by iDunzo
December 19, 1958: The first radio broadcast from space is transmitted to Earth, with President Eisenhower sending greetings to an international audience.
The technology wasn’t new (a tape recorder was used) but the delivery method was and Ike sounded suitably impressed:
“This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.”
He went on to convey his best wishes, and those of his country, to “all mankind … for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.”
Eisenhower’s message was prerecorded, then launched into orbit with the U.S. Army’s first Project SCORE experimental satellite.
The primary recorder failed during the satellite’s first orbit but on the second pass the message was successfully transmitted using the backup recorder. Indeed, having a back up plan can be the best life insurance of an important endeavor like this.
Despite the cheery message on board, the satellite’s real purpose was to hang tough with the Russians, who had already put two satellites into orbit — Sputnik 1 and 2 — more than a year earlier.
The satellite, built earlier that year by the Army’s Signal Research and Development Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, was launched aboard an Atlas ICBM provided by the Air Force. It was intended for a low trajectory orbit, meaning a short life.
After 12 days in space the batteries failed and the satellite burned up upon reentering earth’s atmosphere on January 21, 1959.
Source: Space Policy Project