NASA's first successful launch
Pioneer 1 was the first spacecraft launched by NASA itself, on October 11, 1958. The mission goal was for the craft to orbit the moon and return photos of its surface, but it failed to achieve this. According to a NASA history of the mission: "A programming error in the Pioneer 1 launch vehicle upper stage resulted in Pioneer 1 being given insufficient velocity to escape the Earth's gravitational field."
Regardless, Pioneer 1 was NASA's first successful launch, and it did return useful data on Earth's radiation belts.
July 29, 2013 3:08 PM PDT
Photo by: NASA
| Caption by: Eric Mack
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