The Smithsonian's Satellite-Tracking Program: Its History and Organization, Part I

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Written by the Editor in Chief of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, this article traces the development of the Satellite Tracking Program until October 1957, when Sputnik was launched, especially Project Orbiter, the International Geophysical Year in 1957, and focusing on the role of Fred Lawrence Whipple at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Discusses the history of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's program, especially the development of the Baker-Nunn cameras, Norman clock, data manipulation techniques, and distribution of observing stations. Includes photographs, diagrams and maps.


  • Whipple, Fred Lawrence 1906-
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1961 (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Clocks and watches
  • International Geophysical Year, 1957-1958
  • Artificial satellites
  • Astrophysics
  • Satellite Tracking Program
  • Field Stations
  • Project Orbiter
  • Baker-Nunn camera
  • Astronomy
  • Baker-Nunn Camera
  • Sputnik

Physical description

pp. 275-322

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