Kansas Cosmosphere Site Index
First Satellites Gallery


The sign accompanying the Vanguard model. It reads

The Vanguard Legacy

There is no doubt that the Vanguard Program was feasible but disastrous attempt by the United States to respond to the success of the Soviet Sputniks.

Pressed into service before it was ready, Vanguard will forever mean "failure" and "embarrassment" in the language of the American space program. Even Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev referred to the tiny craft as a "crushed grapefruit."

After the first Vanguard exploded on the launch pad, ten more attempts were made to launch these small satellites. Only three of the launches were successful.

Nevertheless, the three successfully orbited Vanguards left positive legacies. The satellites conducted some of the first studies from space of solar radiation and its effect on the Earth's atmosphere.

The Oldest Satellites

But the greatest legacy left by the Vanguards is their longevity. Although long since defunct, the tiny satellites should continue orbiting the Earth for at least another 200 years—a true testimony to the early, difficult years of spaceflight.

Additional information on the Vanguard project is available at Vanguard: A History.

Sign accompanying Vanguard 1 model in First Satellites exhibit at Kansas Cosmosphere
Time picture taken Thu Apr 14 14:31:16 2016
Location picture taken Cold War Gallery
Space Hall
Kansas Cosmosphere
Hutchinson, KS
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