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Cape designated historic site

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bob Dickman, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander, unveil a marker designating Cape Canaveral AFS as a Historic Aerospace Site. (U.S. Air Force photo by Regina Mitchell-Ryall)

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bob Dickman, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander, unveil a marker designating Cape Canaveral AFS as a Historic Aerospace Site. (U.S. Air Force photo by Regina Mitchell-Ryall)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Dozens of members of the team that launched America's first satellite from Cape Canaveral 50 years ago were on hand Jan. 31 to celebrate that anniversary. They also shared in the unveiling of a marker declaring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a National Historic Aerospace Site.

Explorer 1 was launched on a Jupiter-C rocket from Complex 26 Jan. 31, 1958. Many believe that launch propelled America into the Space Age. Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander, paid tribute to the Explorer 1 veterans during the ceremony, "If it wasn't for what you did 50 years ago, I don't think we'd be doing what we do here today," she said. "We're standing on your shoulders."

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bob Dickman, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, reminded all that the marker salutes the history of the entirety of the Cape's rich space and missile programs. But he also saluted the Explorer 1 launch team, as well as the launch teams of today. "The Cape is a historic site, but it's not history. History is still being written here today," he said.

The Jupiter-C rocket that launched Explorer 1 was a modified U.S. Army Redstone missile. Army Col. Timothy R. Coffin, commander of the 1st Space Brigade, Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command presented General Helms with a plaque on behalf of the U.S. Army in honor of the Army veterans on the Explorer 1 launch team.

Explorer 1 was designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology. The satellite instrumentation of Explorer 1 was designed and built by Dr. James Van Allen of the State University of Iowa. The satellite was launched on the Jupiter-C vehicle was designed, built, and launched by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency under the direction of Dr. Wernher Von Braun.