This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at Vanguard

The civilian program solely authorized by Eisenhower to launch the first earth satellite. The Vanguard was developed from the civilian Viking sounding rocket. A secret political agenda was to establish the right of orbital overflight of the Soviet Union, either by flying a purely civilian satellite, or by letting the Russians orbit the earth first. Sputnik was first, the Vanguard failed, and facing the tremendous public impact of Sputnik - which surprised Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and Korolev - Eisenhower authorized Von Braun to launch Explorer atop a Jupiter-C Redstone - almost two years after it was first possible. The Vanguard went on to a less-than-thrilling launch record, but its second stage was developed into various Able upper stages used on the Thor and Atlas for years to come.

Launch Vehicle: Viking. Navy Viking sounding rocket was first important US indigenous sounding rocket. It was eventually developed into the Vanguard satellite launcher.

Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. Launch vehicle developed by Navy to launch America's first satellite as part of the International Geophysical Year. Von Braun's Jupiter-C launched first US satellite after Vanguard launch failure. Upper stages led to Able upper stage for Thor/Atlas.

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .