Higher, Faster, Further: 1970-1996

The Boeing Company ... Building Satellites

Boeing started building satellites during the early 1970s. The Boeing-built 72-1 Scientific Satellite, launched Oct. 2, 1972, from the Western Test Range in California, circled Earth a total of 26,375 times during its first five years, logging more than 637 million miles in its sun-synchronous circular orbit.

The 72-1 gathered data on the Earth and the sun for the U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Organization. The spacecraft was placed on orbit by an Atlas launch craft, powered by a North American Rocketdyne engine and Boeing Burner II upper stage. The spin-stabilized, magnetically controlled 72-1 scientific satellite had solar panels that supplied more than 200 watts of electrical power to its scientific instruments.

In 1975, the Boeing Aerospace Company's Space Systems Division started work on two small low-cost spacecraft, designated Applications Explorer Mission 1 (AEM-1) and Applications Explorer Mission 2 (AEM-2), under the technical direction of the Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA launched AEM-1 April 26, 1978. AEM-2 was in orbit on Feb. 18, 1979. AEM-1 sensed the Earth's surface temperatures at the hottest and coolest times of the days. AEM-2 measured solar radiation and scanned the Earth's atmosphere to measure solar intensity at different layers. Scientists used these data to study the radiation effects of stratospheric aerosol and ozone on the global climate.

During 1973, Boeing also began to work with NASA to study the possibility of solar power satellites that used silicon solar cells to generate electric energy from sunlight and send it to Earth to power cities. The largest proposed could have produced 10,000 megawatts of usable power -- enough to fill the needs of a million homes.

In 1985, Boeing built the Viking spacecraft platform for Sweden, which was the platform for the Swedish Space Corporation's first satellite. Viking studied the interaction between solar winds and Earth's magnetosphere, causing the aurora borealis. The aurora was of interest to Sweden because of its impact on communications and electronic equipment.

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