This Week in History
Canada Joins the Space Age
For the week of Monday September 29, 2008
On September 29, 1962, the Alouette 1 was launched from Vandenberg, California, aboard a Thor-Agena B rocket, establishing Canada as the third nation in space! Prior to the Alouette 1, the only nations to have satellites in orbit were the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Alouette 1 came about when Canadian scientists with the Defence Research Board (DRB) responded to an invitation from the United States to participate in joint space programs. A proposal was submitted in 1958 to NASA by the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment, a branch of DRB. Dr. Eldon Warren is credited with the concept. The proposal was accepted and work on the project began immediately under the leadership of Dr. John Chapman. A team of more than a hundred scientific and engineering staff was involved. Alouette 1 turned out to be an outstanding success lasting in space for 10 years whereas other satellites of that era only lasted a few months. Its success was attributed to the excellence of the engineering design and construction.
The success of the Alouette 1 helped pave the way for the establishment of institutions such as the Canadian Space Agency, Telesat Canada, the Communications Research Centre and the David Florida Lab.
The Alouette 1 Satellite Programme has been designated a National Historic Event for establishing Canada, only the third nation in space, as an international leader in spacecraft engineering and space research.
- Date Modified: