Congress makes sure we remember Explorer 1

Fifty years ago tonight the United States “officially” entered the Space Age with the successful launch of Explorer 1. In honor of the occasion, the House Science and Technology Committee announced yesterday that Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), chair of the committee’s space subcommittee, introduced a resolution honoring the anniversary. The resolution, H.Con.Res. 287, cosponsored by several other members of the committee, including chairman Bart Gordon and ranking Republican Ralph Hall, “celebrates the achievement” of Explorer 1 and “looks forward to the next 50 years of United States achievements in the robotic and human exploration of space.”

As it turns out, it’s not the first time in recent months that Congress has recognized Explorer 1. In October the House approved H.Con.Res. 225, a resolution marking the 50th anniversary of “the dawn of the Space Age”, as heralded by both Sputnik and Explorer 1. And, last spring, both the House and the Senate approved H.Con.Res. 76, a resolution marking the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year, mentioning that the IGY “initiated the Space Age with the successful launch of the first artificial satellites, Sputnik by the former Soviet Union, and Explorer I by the United States”.

2 comments to Congress makes sure we remember Explorer 1

  • Perry A. Noriega

    Hurrah for Explorer 1. It went into orbit eight months before I was born, and gave the US, Wherner VonBraun, the Redstone Arsenal and the American people a much needed boost in morale following Sputnik 1’s drop kick to our national groin.

    Operationally, we became the second spacefaring nation and began our journeys into the reaches of space for real, and started building a legacy of achievement most Americans, I’m sorry to say, understand little and appreciate less. This must change, or there will come a day when the only spacefaring is done in history books, or by other nations.Not by Americans, whom I often observe, don’t appreciate the freedoms and the comparative advantages their heritage, history and culture give them, but I digress, that is for another column.

    This is one of the challenges in the next half century of US spacefaring: making the average person aware of the challenges and opportunites that space offers in many different realms of endeavor, and getting them involved via what they do with what they have by way of friends, tools, knowledge, skills, etc, to contribute to the spacefaring cause.

    Finding ways to include the US populace and anyone from any nation into becoming a shareholder, in every sense of the word, in opening up space for a variety of uses, for a plurality of peoplel for a multitude of reasons, at an affordable price, where you will have title to what you paid money for in the end; this is the great challenge of the next fifty years of work in the space field. Including the common man via the most efficent use of scarce capital and other resources: go where the wealth is, and make use of it there. And there is great wealth in space. Not just for nation states or for corporations, oligarchs, old money people or conventional, geocentric-static politicians and there minions. The individual comes first.

    No plan or program, no mission or spacecraft, no nation or company can fully address the enormity of the task of opening up space for settlement. The Individual is key.

    In my mind, the Space Settlement Initiative of 2004 comes as close as anything else, to expressing what space is for, what is possible to do there, and who should go where, for what purposes, and who pays for the trip and all the hardware. And space happens to include settlement as the ultimate goal and the most honest expression of why bothering to go into space in the first place.And individuals, as a small team, small groups, and eventually small town sized groups are what will open the Moon, Mars, the Asteroids, the moons of the outer planets, and even O’Neill style space colonies, to settlement.

    And explorer 1 began the journey for Americans, and freedom loving people everywhere fifty years ago today. Hurrah for Explorer 1.

    I thought of it being late in orbit, because it had too much energy, but lasting in orbit till March 1970. And I remember a poem someone wrote to commemorate it’s passing from orbit in the fires of a destructive re-entry:

    Each in our own way,
    drinks to a bygone day.
    Explorer in truth,
    was part of our youth,
    and not only orbits decay.

  • Space Cowboy

    Dude, there isn’t a dry eye in the room here anymore.

    I can’t tell if they’re crying or laughing, though.

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