Living History: 1st Weather Satellite Launched 49 Years Ago
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2009 -- On April 1, 1960, the Television Infrared Observation Satellite, or TIROS I, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., atop a Thor missile. It was the world's first meteorological satellite. The launch of TIROS I marked the first day it became possible to observe the Earth's weather conditions on a regular basis, over most of the world from the vantage point of outer space.
The satellite was rocketed into space aboard a Thor-Able launch vehicle. It was basically a cylinder with 18 flattened sides to mount solar power cells. The satellite was approximately 42 inches in diameter, 22 inches high (including the projecting television camera lens), and had a launch weight of approximately 283 pounds including fuel for small solid rockets to control the satellite's spin over time.
For comparison, the latest generation the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-15 satellite is 74 inches in diameter, and 165 inches high in its "folded" launch configuration, and weighs 4,920 pounds (2231.7kg) at liftoff.
(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)
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