On March 26, 1958, the United States launched its third satellite into space. ‘On This Day in Space’ Video Series on Space.com
On March 26, 1958, the United States launched Explorer 3, its third satellite, into space. The satellite was almost identical to its predecessor, Explorer 1, and was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Juno I rocket.
Explorer 3 carried additional equipment, including a cosmic ray counter and a micrometeorite detector, which were used to gather data about the space environment. The satellite was placed in an eccentric orbit, allowing it to study the Earth’s radiation belts and detect changes in the space environment over time.
During its mission, Explorer 3 confirmed the Van Allen radiation belts , which are zones of energetic particles that surround the Earth. This provided valuable information about the space environment and helped pave the way for future space exploration efforts.
Explorer 3 remained in orbit for about 3 months before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere on June 23, 1958. Its successful mission demonstrated the United States’ growing technological prowess in space exploration and opened up new avenues for scientific research.