Elon Musk recently joined the time honoured tradition of launching things into space, and he became the first person to send a car, the ‘SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket’ out there.
Sixty years ago, the Vanguard 1 satellite was launched into space – and it’s still up there – making it the oldest human object in space.
It was launched into space on 17 March 1958, and has stayed 600km above the Earth even after its batteries died.
Named ‘Project Vanguard’, the US project was put together as a response to Russia’s launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957.
It looks like a small aluminium sphere with six antennas. Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev infamously referred to it as the “grapefruit satellite” for its small size.
There were other, earlier satellites sent to space, like the Sputnik 1 in 1957, and the Explorer 1, the first US satellite, but both have since re-entered the atmosphere and burned up.
Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to have solar electric power.
Though it doesn’t transmit information from space and is considered to be junk, it hasn’t collided with other satellites because its orbit is higher than many of its contemporaries.
Elon Musks’s SpaceX Company intends to lead the charge of utilising space and is planning to launch a network of more than 7,500 satellites to deliver broadband internet.