Science: Polar Sky Spies

The last Explorer has fallen silent, and the current series of U.S.-made satellites is spinning to its end. Last week Roy W. Johnson, director of the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), announced plans for the U.S.'s next series. The new "Discoverer" series will include Sputnik-sized reconnaissance satellites revolving in north-south orbits that cross both poles.

The first shot, scheduled for next month, will use a Thor IRBM as its first stage and is expected to put 1,300 lbs. in orbit. The instrument payload, said Johnson, will weigh "several hundred pounds." Later shots will use Atlas ICBMs as boosters and will...

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