Explorer 1The United States succeeds in launching its own artificial satellite, Explorer 1, atop a Juno 1 rocket. Instruments developed by Dr. James Van Allen reveal the existence of radiation surrounding the Earth, and the areas of radiation are subsequently named the Van Allen radiation belts. The satellite itself is designed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and remains in orbit until 1970 – just the first hint of JPL’s knack for making spacecraft that last longer than their rated lifespans.

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