Vanguard 3


Spacecraft nº: 50

USA satellite nº: 40

Also called: Magne-Ray satellite

Launch data

Designation 00020 / 1959 Eta1 / 59007A
Launch date18 Sep 1959 - 5:20:07 UT
Launch siteCC, LC18A
Launch vehicle Vanguard SLV-7 (#11)
Satellite type20in Magnetometer, X-Ray, Env. #1
MissionScientific: Sun study
Earth orbit on Sep 18, 1959 (.3):
Perigee/Apogee512 x 3744 km
Eccentricity 0.190
Period130,00 min
Earth orbit on May 24, 2000 (.49):
Perigee / Apogee 511 x 3379 km
Eccentricity 0.172
Inclination 33,34°
Period 125.93 min

Partial failure, 3e stage failed to separate from payload

Spacecraft data:

Prime contractor  
Operator  NASA
Mass at launch  23 kg (45 kg?)
Payload 23 kg
Basic shape  Rocket-sphere
Dimension  2,5 long 0,51 dia
Design lifetime  200 years

Mission details:

Vanguard 3 was launched by a Vanguard (mod) rocket from the Eastern Test Range into a geocentric orbit. The objectives of the flight were to measure the earth's magnetic field, the solar X-ray radiation and its effects on the earth's atmosphere, and the near-earth micrometeoroid environment. Instrumentation included a proton magnetometer, X-ray ionization chambers, and various micrometeoroid detectors. The spacecraft was a 50.8-cm-diameter magnesium sphere. The magnetometer was housed in a glass fiber phenolic resin conical tube attached to the sphere. Data transmission stopped on December 11, 1959, after 84 days of operation. The data obtained provided a comprehensive survey of the earth's magnetic field over the area covered, defined the lower edge of the Van Allen radiation belt, and provided a count of micrometeoroid impacts. Vanguard 3 has an expected orbital lifetime of 200 yr. 

Satellite tracking:

Real time satellite tracking

Ref: #1, #2, #7, #6e, #14, #206, #228 - update: 03.11.13