Instrumenting an Earth Satellite

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

In October of 1958 when this article was written, a mere year had passed since the successful launch of Sputnik and a few months later the launch of Echo satellites - the first ever for Russia and the USA, respectively. Prior to that time all satellites were conglomerations of rock, metal, and/or gas. There were no manmade satellites except for a couple remnants of test rockets that happened to reach orbital heights.

Instrumenting an Earth Satellite
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That Ronald Michael Benrey, a highschooler of the day, would design and enter an "Earth Satellite" to demonstrate some of the technology needed to an actual orbiting satellite was a phenom. Most people hadn`t even learned to spell "satellite" yet. His creation took second place in the National Science Fair and first prize in the USAF`s Awards Program. Webster`s definition of Argus is incomplete. In Greek mythology, Argus has another connotation - it denotes the starry heavens. In all respects, it is a fitting name for a model satellite - "Argus I" - built by Ronald Michael Benrey and entered in the National Science Fair. The satellite took second prize at the Fair and took first prize in the Air Force`s Awards Program, as well as receiving other citations. While it doesn`t have the 100 eyes of the mythological Argus, it does have seven "eyes" - sensors designed to "see" such things as temperature, ultraviolet light, and micrometeorites-as well as two "voices" - transmitters to relay the information to receivers. A view of the "works" in Argus I. Note that almost all components are cased in plastic to allow full visibility - the metal box at bottom houses the "Brain". With the antennas in place, "Argus I" measures 54" in diameter and weighs 20 pounds. With batteries, it weighs 30 pounds. It is completely transistorized, using 15 transistors in all. Total cost of the project was about $200. Ground Control. When set up, the...

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