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 are 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.
Aug. 5, 2011: JunoJuno facts and figures:
After launching on Aug. 5, 2011, Juno traveled 1.74 billion miles in nearly five years, reaching Jupiter in July 2016. Its main objective is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, studying its core, mapping its magnetic field, measuring the amount of water in the atmosphere and observing its auroras all with the intent to help scientists understand how giant planets form and their role in the entire solar system. The initial plan was for Juno to make one orbit of Jupiter every 14 days, but that slowed to a 53-day orbit, thus extending the mission into 2021. At the conclusion of its mission, Juno will perform a controlled deorbit and disintegrate into Jupiter’s atmosphere.
July 16, 1969: Apollo 11Apollo 11 facts and figures:
Fifty years ago on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched with a mission to go where no one had gone before—the moon. It was a culmination of a goal by President John F. Kennedy made in May 1961 to perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth. Specific objectives included scientific exploration by the lunar module (LM) Eagle and crew, deployment of a television camera to transmit signals to Earth, gathering of samples of lunar-surface materials and photograph the lunar terrain among others. Four days after launch and with an estimated 650 million people watching live on television, Neil Armstrong uttered what is one of the most famous phrases of all time “…one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” as he took the first steps on the moon by a human being.
July 10, 1962: TelstarTelstar facts and figures:
On July 10, 1962, Telstar, the world’s first active communications satellite, launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. An experimental satellite, Telstar was a low Earth orbit satellite, completing an elliptical orbit every two hours and 37 minutes. It had six ground stations to communicate with—one each in the United States (Andover, Maine), Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy. Telstar relayed its first, and non-public, television picture, a flag outside of the Andover ground station, on July 11, 1962, and on July 23, it relayed the first publicly available live transatlantic television signal. Telstar only operated for a couple of months, going out of service in November 1962, but it captured the imagination of the world and set the foundation for global communications as we know it today.
June 10, 2003: Mars RoverMars Rover facts and figures:
On June 10, 2003, Mars Exploration Rover Spirit launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 17. Less than a month later, Opportunity launched. The rovers landed on Mars just 21 days apart in January 2004 with a planned 90-day mission. While Spirit lasted 20 times longer than its original design, concluding its mission in 2010, Opportunity worked for nearly 15 years and traveled more than 28 miles until its last communication to Earth on June 10, 2018. The rovers worked together to discover evidence of past wet conditions on the Red Planet and that conditions could have potentially sustained life.
April 24, 1990: Hubble Space TelescopeHubble Space Telescope facts and figures:
On April 24, 1990, Hubble Space Telescope launched from the space shuttle Discovery. It is the first major optical telescope to be placed into space and is considered to be the most significant advancement in astronomy since Galileo's telescope. With an unobstructed view of the universe, it captured its first image less than a month after launch on May 20, the star cluster NGC 3532. Traveling at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour, Hubble orbits Earth at a low earth orbit of 340 miles in altitude and makes one orbit roughly every 95 minutes. Hubble uses two 25-foot solar panels to draw energy from the sun, generating about 5,500 W of power, and it transmits about 150 GB of raw data each week.
March 2, 2004: Rosetta and PhilaeRosetta and Philae facts and figures:
On March 2, 2004, the space probe Rosetta, along with its accompanying lander module Philae, began its 10-year fact-finding mission to the comet “67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.” Built by the European Space Agency with support from NASA and TI parts, Rosetta passed Mars in 2007 before reaching the comet and becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a comet on Aug. 6, 2014. Three months later (Nov. 12), Philae performed the first successful soft landing on a comet and obtained the first images from a comet’s surface. Rosettas’ mission concluded in September 2016 with a controlled impact onto the comet after two years of operations at the comet.
Jan. 31, 1958: Explorer IExplorer I facts and figures:
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 July 10 when we highlight Telstar.
Upcoming anniversariesAug. 27: Mariner 2Sept. 5: Voyager I and IIOct. 1: NASA’s 61st birthdayNov. 5: Mars orbiter missionNov. 20: International Space Station
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