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Designation 00879 / 64054A
Launch date 5 Sep 1964
Country of origin United States
Mission Scientific: magnetosphere study
Perigee/Apogee 4930/144824 km
Inclination 40.7°
Period 3841.9 min
Launch vehicle Atlas Agena B
Launch site Cape Canaveral

OGO I carried 20 experiments, more than any previous satellite. The spacecraft's highly elliptical orbit was planned to permit correlated investigations of geophysical and solar phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere, and in interplanetary space.

Two experiment booms failed to deploy properly, however, and one of these booms obscured the horizon scanner's view of Earth. As a result, spacecraft attitude could not be Earth oriented and OGO I remained spin stabilized at 5 rpm. The solar panels were turned to a more favorable sun angle and all 20 experiments were able to provide data.

OGO 1, together with data from Explorer 21, has indicated the source of much of the Van Allen belt's high-energy radiation as the solar wind - entering the magnetosphere through weak field lines in the magnetosphere's tail on the side of the Earth opposite the sun.

End of life

Decay 10 Aug 1980 or 29 Aug 2020

Technical data


Prime contractor TRW
Platform "streetcar" design
Mass at launch 523 kg
Payload mass 95 kg
Dimension 18 x 6 m
Solar array 32000 solar cells + nickel-cadmium batteries
Stabilization 3-axis
DC power  
Design lifetime 1 year

Spacecraft systems included a communication and data handling system to store up to 128,000 bits per second.

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