This day in TI space: from 1958 to today


When we say that our space products are out of this world, we mean it. Our heritage in space exploration is rich, dating as far back as 1958 with the launch of the U.S.’s first satellite, Explorer I, several months before our very own Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit. Since, then, TI semiconductors have been instrumental in a number of major space applications, missions, explorations and discoveries.

From that first satellite to the first moon landing and first comet landing to exploring the planets, TI was there. This year, we will be highlighting and updating this blog post with some of the significant space missions that included TI devices in the last 60-plus years, on the anniversaries of their respective launches. Up first, naturally it’s our first space adventure, Explorer I.

Jan. 31, 1958: Explorer I
Explorer I facts and figures:

  • First satellite launched by the United States and first satellite to carry science instruments.
  • Designed to measure the radiation environment in Earth’s orbit.
  • Orbited Earth more than 58,000 times, averaging one orbit every 114 minutes, or 12.5 orbits per day.
  • Built in less than three months as a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik I in October 1957.

Sixty-one years ago, Explorer I was instrumental in the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt. Originally scheduled to launch Jan. 28, a jet-stream-related issue postponed it for three days. With an original expected lifetime of three years, Explorer I made its final transmission on May 23, 1958, but remained in orbit for more than 12 years, re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere on March 31, 1970.

Be sure to check back on March 2 when we highlight Rosetta and Philae, the first mission to successfully land on the surface of a comet.

Upcoming anniversaries
March 2: Rosetta and Philae
April 24: Hubble telescope
June 10: Mars Rover – Spirit
July 10: Telstar
July 16: Apollo 11
July 27: Mariner 2
Aug. 5: Juno
Sept. 5: Voyager I and II
Oct. 1: NASA’s 61st birthday
Nov. 5: Mars orbiter mission
Nov. 20: International Space Station

Additional resources