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Launches and Orbital Operations


Tyneside, UK
2020 Sep 20
Sunday, Day 264

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Primary source of unclassified orbital elements

Orbital elements based on amateur observations

1958 - Launches to Orbit and Beyond

Listed are launches, irrespective of outcome, that were irretrievably committed to flight towards orbit or intended to accelerate the payload to escape velocity.

Launch times are in UTC and are from the launching agency or estimated by 'walking back' along the ground track to the launch site. The PRIME source of orbit data and decay information is SpaceTrack. All other major sources draw heavily on the Space-Track data.

To fill the gaps where Space-Track's elements are not published because they have a classification of "Secret", a minority of orbits is based on amateur observations using visual and radio techniques. Such data is published near-daily by Mike McCants and the source observations can often be found in the web-based Seesat-L discussion group. Occasionally, early orbit data are published by satellite owners and may cover periods before SpaceTrack lists a new object. In extreme cases, orbits are estimated from public data.

Apogee and perigee are measured against a spherical Earth situated at the focus of the orbital ellipse and with a radius of 6378.145 km. Care should be exercised when comparing with other published orbits even when the source is shown as SpaceTrack because they may be be based on a different model.

Web sites may link to specific launches by pointing to the page URL followed by the three digit launch number, eg - http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Launches/Launches.php?year=1958#001


1958-001
Jupiter C
Cape Canaveral
1958 Feb 1, 03:47
Explorer 1
1958 α 1
4
Re-entered - 1970 Mar 31
Life 4441 days
Scientific satellite to measure cosmic radiation and micrometeoroid density. Discovered the van Allen radiation belts around the Earth.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 Feb 01, 03:4778300.13943602543114.9233.2553


1958-F01 - failed to reach orbit
Vanguard TV-3BU
Cape Canaveral
1958 Feb 5, 07:33
Vanguard
Orbital mission to evaluate the launch vehicle and and launch a minimum-sized satellite. Visual observations were to be used as data for measuring atmospheric denisty and the shape of the Earth. At 57s after lift-off the vehicle lost attitude control and broke up.


1958-F02 - failed to reach orbit
Jupiter C
Cape Canaveral
1958 Mar 5, 18:27
Explorer 2
Scientific satellite to measure cosmic radiation and micrometeoroid density. Final launch vehicle stage failed to ignite.


1958-002
Vanguard TV-4
Cape Canaveral
1958 Mar 17, 12:15
Vanguard I
1958 β 2
5
Orbital mission to evaluate the launch vehicle and and launch a minimum-sized satellite. Visual observations were used as data for measuring atmospheric denisty and the shape of the Earth.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 Mar 17, 12:2486880.19116503970134.3334.24136


1958-003
Jupiter C
Cape Canaveral
1958 Mar 26, 17:38
Explorer 3 (Gamma 1)
1958 γ 1
6
Re-entered - 1958 Jun 28
Life 94 days
Scientific satellite to measure cosmic radiation and micrometeoroid density.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 Mar 26, 17:3778700.16561892795115.8133.2523


1958-F03 - failed to reach orbit
Sputnik 8A91
Baikonur Cosmodrome
1958 Apr 27, 09:01
Sputnik
Scientific satellite with a cluster of instruments to study the Earth's magnetosphere. Lost when launch vehicle disintegrated at L+88 seconds.


1958-F04 - failed to reach orbit
Vanguard TV-5
Cape Canaveral
1958 Apr 29, 02:53
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study solar radiation and other parameters of the space environment. Lost when launch vehicle third stage ignition failed.


1958-004
Sputnik 8A91
Baikonur Cosmodrome
1958 May 15, 07:00
Sputnik 3 (D-1 №2)
1958 δ 2
8
Re-entered - 1960 Apr 6
Life 692 days
Scientific satellite with a cluster of instruments to study the Earth's magnetosphere. An immediate failure of its onboard tape recorder meant that data could only be gathered when within range of a ground-based radio receiving station.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 May 16, 07:0274180.11102161863105.9765.1858


1958-F05 - failed to reach orbit
Vanguard SLV-1
Cape Canaveral
1958 May 28, 03:46
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study Lyman alpha radiation from the Sun. Loss of launch vehicle attitude at second stage burnout prevented it from reaching orbit.


1958-F06 - failed to reach orbit
Vanguard SLV-2
Cape Canaveral
1958 Jun 26, 05:00
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study solar radiation and other parameters of the space environment. Launch vehicle second stage shut down after 8s.


1958-F07 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Jul 25
Pilot 1
First attempt at a small dummy satellite launch using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft. Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. The satellite was lost when the rocket is thought to have exploded as it ascended. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-005
Jupiter C
Cape Canaveral
1958 Jul 26, 15:00
Explorer 4
1958 ε 1
9
Re-entered - 1959 Oct 23
Life 454 days
Scientific satellite to measure radiation in the vicinity of the Earth.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 Jul 26, 15:0676240.12972572234110.4150.3947


1958-F08 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Aug 12
Pilot 2
Attempt to launch a small dummy satellite using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft. Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. The satellite was lost when the rocket exploded a few seconds after ignition. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-F09 - failed to reach orbit
Thor Able I
Cape Canaveral
1958 Aug 17, 12:18
Pioneer
Lunar orbiter equipped with an imaging sytem, a micrometeoroid detector and a magnetometer. It was destroyed when the launch vehicle exploded after 77s.


1958-F10 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Aug 22
Pilot 3
Attempt to launch a small dummy satellite using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft. Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. Radio contact was lost as planned when the rocket passed below the horizon but it is not known whether final stage rocket ignition occurred - it was planned for the southern hemisphere 40-50 minutes after release from the Skyray. The possibility exists that Pilot 3 reached orbit but there is no definitive evidence. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-F11 - failed to reach orbit
Jupiter C
Cape Canaveral
1958 Aug 24, 06:17
Explorer 5
Scientific satellite to measure radiation in the vicinity of the Earth. At separation, the launch vehicle 1st stage rammed the rest of the vehicle.


1958-F12 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Aug 25
Pilot 4
Attempt to launch a small satellite, possibly carrying a meteorological camera, using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft. Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. The satellite was lost when the rocket exploded as it ascended. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-F13 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Aug 26
Pilot 5
Attempt to launch a small satellite, possibly carrying a meteorological camera, using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft.Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. The satellite was lost when the rocket failed to ignite after being released by the Skyray. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-F14 - failed to reach orbit
F4D1 Skyray/NOTS-EV1
Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake
1958 Aug 28
Pilot 6
Attempt to launch a small satellite, possibly carrying a meteorological camera, using a rocket from the US Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) released from an F4D1 Skyray single seat jet aircraft. Intended to reach an orbit, probably, around 120° inclination, reportedly ranging up to 2200 km. The satellite was lost when the rocket broke up as it ascended. Date is probably in US Pacific Daylight time.


1958-F15 - failed to reach orbit
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome
1958 Sep 23
Luna (E-1 №2)
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. The launcher disintegrated after 93 seconds.


1958-F16 - failed to reach orbit
Vanguard SLV-3
Cape Canaveral
1958 Sep 26, 15:38
Vanguard
Scientific satellite to study the Earth's cloud cover. Second stage performance was below requirement so Vanguard was low on velocity by 31 m/s and fell back to Earth about 15,000 km from the launch site.


1958-006
Thor Able I
Cape Canaveral
1958 Oct 11, 08:42
SCORE (Signal Communications Orbit Relay Equipment)
1958 ζ 1
10
Re-entered - 1959 Jan 21
Life 102 days
Atlas missile placed in orbit with a demonstration real-time and store and forward communications package. Broadcasting a Christmas message from US President Dwight D. Eisenhower held by an on-board tape recorder.

epoch (UTC)         
s-m axis
( km )
ecc    perigee
( km )
apogee
( km )
period
( min )
incl 
( ° )
ω  
( ° )
1958 Dec 30, 22:0170510.0729159118798.2132.29236


1958-F17 - failed to reach orbit
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome
1958 Oct 11
Luna (E-1 №2)
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. The launcher disintegrated after 42 seconds.


1958-F18 - failed to reach orbit
Jupiter C + akm
Cape Canaveral
1958 Oct 23, 03:21
Explorer
High visibility balloon to be used as a visual target for air density measurement and serve as a radar target. Payload fell off the launch vehicle after 112s due to vibration.


1958-F19 - failed to reach orbit
Thor Able I
Cape Canaveral
1958 Nov 8, 07:30
Pioneer 2 (Pioneer P-2)
Lunar orbiter equipped with an imaging sytem, a micrometeoroid detector and a magnetometer. It was destroyed when the launch vehicle third stage failed to ignite and the whole stack fell back to Earth from 1500 km.


1958-F20 - failed to reach orbit
Vostok-L 8K72
Baikonur Cosmodrome
1958 Dec 4
Luna (E-1 №3)
Instrumented lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory aimed at hitting the Moon. The launcher core-stage rocket engine shut down after 245 seconds


1958-007
Juno II
Cape Canaveral
1958 Dec 6, 05:44
Pioneer 1 (Able 2)
1958 η 1
110
Re-entered - 1958 Oct 12
Life <1 day
Lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory intended to go into orbit with imager to photograph the surface, and instruments to measure micrometeoroids and magnetic fields. Insufficient velocity meant that it fell back to Earth from about 114,000 km. It was catalogued retrospectively late-1960, hence the out-of-sequence Catalogue Number.
Orbit parameters not available


1958-008
Atlas B
Cape Canaveral
1958 Dec 18, 23:02
Pioneer 3
1958 θ 1
111
Re-entered - 1958 Dec 7
Life <1 day
Lunar spacecraft on direct ascent trajectory intended to go past the Moon and into heliocentric orbit. Insufficient velocity meant that it fell back to Earth from about 102,300 km. It carried instruments to measure radiation in the outer van Allen radiation belt and to test components of a lunar photographic experiment. It was catalogued retrospectively late-1960, hence the out-of-sequence number.
Orbit parameters not available


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