Science: Sophisticated Satellite

The Navy's test satellite, Vanguard I, may be small, but it is high and wondrously sophisticated, and it will probably stay in space many years longer than any of its earlier rivals. Its elliptical orbit varies between 404 miles and 2,466 miles above the earth. When it is ending its climb toward the high point (apogee), the satellite is moving slowest: only 12,000 m.p.h. Then it swoops down to the low point (perigee) and increases its speed to 18,400 m.p.h. It makes a full trip around the ellipse, 34,100 miles, in 134 minutes.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!