Fifty years ago today, America's first satellite, Explorer 1, roared into space from Cape Canaveral atop a Jupiter C booster (a heavily modified Redstone missile with three solid-fuel upper stages). The satellite made the first measurements of cosmic radiation and led to the discovery, confirmed by Explorer 3, of the Van Allen radiation belts.
Erika Lishock and I are proud of our contribution to chronicling this even in our book The First Space Race (Texas A&M University Press, 2004)
For a good collection of NASA and other links to all facets of this story, see today's NASAWatch (www.nasawatch.com.
Excerpt from review in the military professional journal PARAMETERS:
From PARAMETERS, the Army War College Quarterly
Available at: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/06summer/sum-rev.htm
The First Space Race: Launching the World’s First Satellites. By Matt Bille and Erika Lishock. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004. 214 pages. $40.00 ($19.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. James R. Downey, Professor of Science and Technology, US Army War College.
....Matt Bille and Erika Lishock address this early history with their book titled The First Space Race. Packed with copious details and several first-person accounts, the book provides an excellent understanding of how the space race began and the effects it had on the world. In particular, for the national security audience the book provides a historical insight into the developing competition between the United States and the former Soviet Union, such that where we are today can reasonably be traced to the race to space....
In sum, this book provides a superb insight into the early space race and the overall effects this race had on both the United States and the Soviet Union. Understanding how efforts in space began is a lens into the space programs we have today, both military and civilian. Matt Bille and Erika Lishock’s The First Space Race reveals the story of this world-changing journey.