Docket Number: 2009-03
Proposal Link: http://ethw.org/Milestone-Proposal:TIROS_1
Proposed Citation in English, with title and text. Text absolutely limited to 70 words; 60 is preferable for aesthetic reasons. NOTE: The IEEE History Committee shall have final determination on the wording of the citation
Absolutely limited to 75 words; 60 is preferable for aesthetic reasons. NOTE: Whether or not the nominator suggests a citation, The IEEE History Committee shall have final determination of the wording of the citation.
TIROS 1 - TELEVISION INFRA-RED OBSERVATION SATELLITE
RCA Laboratories developed TV Vidicon cameras. RCA Camden developed cameras and recorders under USASCRDL classified contracts. In 1958 RCA Astro, under NASA direction, designed the spacecraft: structure, communications, controls, power supply using solar and battery cells, momentum adjust devices, and horizon sensors. On April 1, 1960 RCA Astro, NASA, and Lockheed teams launched TIROS 1, the worlds first weather satellite.
APRIL 1, 2010
Historic significance of this work: its importance to the evolution of electrical and computer engineering and science and its importance to regional/national/international development.
After World War II, V2 rocket testing continued, supported by a team of German scientists at White Sands Proving Grounds (WSPG) in NM under the Army’s Ordnance Research and Development (AOR&D) Division at Fort Bliss, TX. In Oct.1949, AOR&D was transferred to Redstone Arsenal, AL. Tests at the WSPG were continued on smaller rockets and high altitude balloon capabilities for a variety of purposes.
In Jan 1946, scientists at Camp Evans (near Fort Monmouth, N.J.) working on Project DIANA, were the first to bounce radio signals off the Moon. This experience led the Army’s Signal Corps and the Signal Research and Development Laboratory (USASCRDL) team into developing components needed for space systems operations.
The U.S. was the world leader after WWII. The U.S.S.R desires of expansion and world dominance created the conditions later to be called “The Cold War”. After the Korean War Truce, America remained vigilant to other possible threats from the U.S.S.R. and China.
Under USAF, the RAND Corporation conducted and evaluated numerous satellite applications in the early 1950’s. RAND evaluated various sensing systems and target data characteristics from sensors on high altitude balloon, aircraft, and rockets to determine the requirements for and value of a space platform used for recon and weather forecasting purposes. RAND favored simple satellite systems.
A joint Army - Navy proposal using a Redstone to launch a satellite- Project Orbiter was denied. In 1955, the government elected to pursue a less military-related effort under project Vanguard, using the Navy’s Viking missile. The Vanguard rocket was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory for the purpose of launching a satellite for the International Geophysical Year. NRL led the development of satellite tracking systems.
In 1955, Lockheed won a USAF contract to build a satellite reconnaissance system, and film cameras were selected for that mission, over a proposal by RCA to use television cameras.
In Feb 1956, the Army established the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). The ABMA continued to develop the capability of the Redstone missile under the Von Braun team, and continued investigating surveillance TV applications at USASCDRL.
RCA had developed television standards and equipment technology to meet national needs. RCA proposed TV cameras applications to the Army Ballistic Missile Command and classified contracts funded light weight slow scan camera procurement, using the Vidicon cameras developed by RCA Labs in 1956.
In Oct 1957 the Cold War moved to space when the U.S.S.R orbited their Sputnik satellite with a beeping beacon – the message was clear and the Space Race was added to the Cold War.
In the Fall of 1957 a team from RCA Labs conducted a series of classified briefings and demonstrations of a light weight TV Vidicon camera suitable for space applications for top levels of DOD, CIA and government technical consultants, and culminating with a briefing before the House Committees of jurisdiction. This demonstration and presentation established the feasibility of a space satellite payload and mission.
In Dec 1957, Vanguard TV-3, exploded on Cape Canaveral Launch Pad 18A just seconds after it was launched. The first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite had failed dramatically before the eyes of the world. On Jan 1958, Explorer I, aboard a four-stage version of the Redstone missile was the first U.S. successful response to Sputnik.
In Feb 1958, DoD created Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). ARPA transferred management of the TV based satellite program from ABM to USASCDRL in Fort Monmouth, NJ. RCA created the RCA Astro Electronics Products Division for continued work on contracts with Fort Monmouth.
RCA transferred teams that worked under previous related classified contracts from RCA Labs and RCA Camden to RCA Astro, which hired experienced engineers from government agencies and other talented individuals that wanted to participate. The RCA Astro Engineering team began the design and testing of the new equipments for flight and ground systems. All equipment development and production was the responsibility of RCA Astro.
In June 1958, USASCRDL developed a 150-pound communication satellite under Project SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment). The ARPA-sponsored project provided for a launch on an USAF Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
In Oct. 1958, Congress and the President of the United States created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Some USASCDRL employees were transferred to NASA, who continued working with the U.S. Weather Bureau, and directed all subsequent aspects of the TIROS 1 project.
In Dec 1958 SCORE satellite was the first to relay, store, and forward human voice and data, and also broadcasted President Eisenhower’s Christmas message to the world.
RCA Astro issued several subcontracts to complete the acquisition of essential equipment for the TIROS test models and flight spacecraft.
1. RCA’s Tube Division for Vidicons
2. RCA’s Camden unit for Video Recorders
3. Elgeet and Tegea supplied the camera lens
4. Lavelle Aircraft Corp. for spacecraft structure fabrication
5. Applied Science Corporation of Princeton for Beacon Transmitters
6. Radiation Labs for Video Data Transmitters
7. General Time Inc for the spacecraft master clock.
8. Barnes Engineering provided a Horizon Sensor Unit.
9. International Rectifier supplied Solar Cells.
10. Sonotone supplied the Battery Cells and Packs.
11. Other procurement of significant items like small rockets, and quality electronic components were all vital to the success of the mission.
RCA Astro completed the spacecraft system design and designed, built, and tested the spacecraft in simulated launch and space environments to qualify the spacecraft for launch, ready to successfully perform all the aspects of the mission.
The TIROS 1 Ground Station Command and Data Acquisition (CDA) equipment was designed and produced by Astro and delivered to Camp Evans at Fort Monmouth where space antennas for transmit and reception were used by the TIROS Project, and USAF provided their facility at Kaena Point on Oahu, Hawaii. RCA Astro operated a backup CDA installed at the Astro plant.
TIROS 1’s success fulfilled America’s Space for Peace initiative and promise, restored our nation’s confidence in the Space Race, conclusively demonstrated the merits of expansive space images for meteorology and enabled the accelerated exploration and development of civilian applications of space.
What features or characteristics set this work apart from similar achievements?
The TIROS Program was initiated during the Cold War’ Space Race by elements of the Department of Defense exploring space applications. This ARPA project, then being developed by USASCDRL, was recognized as the nation’s best response to meet President Eisenhower’s direction to form a space for peace program. After NASA was formed by act of Congress in 1958, NASA took charge of the TIROS project and coordinated all elements of the government, including that of the U. S. Weather Bureau and the Air Weather Service. TIROS was adequately funded, had access to the latest launch vehicle performance to support an operational and payload.
NASA was assigned responsibility of the TIROS Program, which was to be the new space agency’s first operational program. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) was the lead center. This mission would follow the other research initiatives of the Vanguard program led by the NRL to support the International Geophysical Year and the Explorer spacecraft series which were being developed by the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
As a part of the U. S. Space Program, the Vanguard 2 spacecraft launched in Feb 1959 and Explorer 6 spacecraft launched on August 7, 1959, were each predecessors of TIROS 1. Vanguard 2 spacecraft payload was primarily an imaging experiment led by Principal Investigator Bill Stroud, who was formerly with the USASCDRL team at Ft. Monmouth, while the TIROS Project was under ARPA. Mr. Stroud would later become the NASA/GSFC Program Manager for TIROS 1.
Each of these predecessors included an experiment to capture an image of the Earth’s cloud structure. These early experiments were weight limited and the image developed was dependent upon spacecraft launch vehicle orbit achieved and other spacecraft attitude maintenance characteristics. Neither experiment was able to demonstrate performance comparable to that of the more robust TIROS Project. The TIROS 1 cameras had been demonstrated in other classified projects used on sub-orbital flight missions.
An Air Weather Service Study on TIROS 1
The Air Weather Service provided an evaluation of the TIROS 1 mission. The report “Air Weather Service and Meteorological Satellites, 1950—1960” written by Mr. Charles W. Dickens, and MSgt Charles A. Ravenstein and edited by Mr. John F. Fuller, for the Air Weather Service Historical Study No. 5, December 1973 provides a users perspective of the TIROS 1 achievements.
http://www.airweaassn.org/reports/Pages from Air Weather Service and Meteorological Satellites, 1950--1960_partA.pdf
The AWS Report file is 14mb and is in pdf style with images of text embedded. Below, two images are included, and are extracts from: page 46 – TIROS 1 Evaluated, and page 48 AWS Conclusions from TIROS 1 photographs.
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