Today in 1971, Britain launched its first and only satellite that was deployed by a British rocket (The Black Arrow R3). Prospero was designed to study the effects of space environment on communications satellites. It remained operational until 1973, and was contacted annually for 25 years after. In September 2011, it was announced that a team at University College London had planned to re-establish connection with Prospero, but no further information was ever announced.
Today in 1979, an unidentified double flash of light was detected near the Prince Edwards Islands. The flashes were picked up by the U.S. satellite Vela 5B, which was designed to identify nuclear detonations. For years there was speculation about what could have caused the anomaly, including theories about magnetospheric events and, of course, aliens. Although some information on the event remains classified to this day, most recent studies suggest that is was a nuclear weapons test carried out by Israel.
Today in 1960, the Soviet Union's Korabl-Sputnik 2 satellite was launched. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely. On board were two dogs, 40 mice, two rats, and a variety of flora. The satellite made 4 orbits around Earth before touching back down the next day. All animals returned safely. The two dogs, Belka and Strelka, were both taxidermied after their deaths and are on display at the Moscow Museum of Space and Aeronautics.
Today in 1972, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1 (later renamed Landsat 1) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in CA. The also marked the beginning of the Landsat program, which is still in effect today. The focus of Landsat is to gather information about Earth, such as its agriculture, geology, oceanography, and meteorology. The most recent launch, Landsat 8, took place in February 2013. Landsat 9 is already being developed and is planned to be launched in December 2020. Image Credit: NASA
Today in 1962, the Telstar 1 satellite was launched into space. It was a joint effort between NASA, AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Britain's General Post Office, and France's National PPT (now Orange S.A.) and was the first privately sponsored space launch. It was the first publicly available live transatlantic television signal to be broadcast. Among those to appear on the broadcast were Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, Richard Dimbleby, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and a short segment of a Phillies-Cubs baseball game. It also relayed the first satellite telephone call, which was between U.S. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson and AT&T Chairman Frederick Kappel. Although Telstar…