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Courier 1A, 1B, 1C

Courier 1A [US Army]

The Courier satellite, launched in 1960 and developed and built under the supervision of the Army Fort Monmouth Laboratories, was the experimental communications satellite that proved high-volume communications, up to 100,000 words per minute, could be relayed through space.

The Courier satellite had first been proposed by the Army Signal Corps back in September 1958, two months before the launch of the SCORE satellite.

On 18 August 1960, an attempt to put the Army developed Courier 1A communications satellite into orbit failed when the rocket exploded about 2.5 minutes after lift­off.

On 4 October 1960, the Army's Courier 1B satellite was launched into low earth orbit. The storage and transmission capacity was much greater than that of the SCORE satellite. It was also the first communications satellite to be powered by long life solar cells to recharge nickel cadmium storage batteries. After completing one orbit, a message from President Eisenhower to the United Nations was transmitted from Fort Monmouth and relayed to a ground station in Puerto Rico. After 228 orbits in 17 days, the payload refused to respond to commands from the ground. It is believed that the clock based access codes got out of synchronization, therefore the satellite would not respond to what it interpreted as unauthorized commands. While operational the satellite had relayed more than 50 million words of teletype data.

A third Courier 1C was built, but not launched.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Communication
Operator: US Army
Contractors: Philco Western Development Labs (WDL) (formerly Army Fort Monmouth Laboratories)
Configuration: Sphere
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 230 kg
Orbit: 938 km × 1237 km; 28.33°
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Courier 1A 1960-F10 18.08.1960 CC LC-17B F Thor-DM21 Able-Star
Courier 1B 1960 ν 1 04.10.1960 CC LC-17B Thor-DM21 Able-Star
Courier 1C - not launched CC LC-17B Thor-DM21 Able-Star


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