Science: An Explorer Dies

Each, in his separate way, Drinks to a bygone day. The Explorer, in truth, Was part of our youth, And not only orbits decay.

In the years since that limerick was written by one of the Caltech scientists who built Explorer I, the men involved in the project matured and moved on to more ambitious space programs. But Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, remained steadfastly in orbit, a seemingly immortal reminder of one of the most important discoveries of the Space Age.

Launched on Jan. 31, 1958, more than three months after the Soviet Union's 184-lb. Sputnik I, the 30.8-lb. Explorer had...

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