Naval Research Laboratory
Space Technology Milestones


6/1/1998 - mile-st
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1951 - First radio signals reflected off the moon (world's largest parabolic antenna used as a first step toward satellite communications)

1954 - First voice transmission made over the moon radio circuit

1956 - First radio communications using the moon as a passive relay station

1955 - Project Vanguard, the first solar-powered satellite, established at NRL

1958 - First satellite-surveillance system (Minitrack) placed in operation

1958 - First determination of the density of the upper atmosphere by Minitrack observations of U.S. and Soviet satellites

1958 - Thermal-equilibrium problems of space satellites solved

1958 - Placed Vanguard I in Earth orbit

1959 - World's first satellite-communication system put into operation

1959 - Development of automatic-data-reduction equipment for satellites

1960 - Launch of the first orbiting-solar-observatory satellite, Solar Radiation I

1960 - First payload of multiple satellites placed in orbit by single launch vehicle

1962 - First successful communications relay from shore to ship by using the Moon's surface as a passive relay

1963 - First completely automatic computation system developed for satellite-surveillance systems

1964 - Development of the first practical hydrogen-maser radio-frequency standard

1965 - Moon radar system placed in operation

1967 - NRL Timation I satellite placed in orbit (forerunner of the GPS navigation system)

1970 - First time transfer via satellite

1974 - Activation of the world's first orbiting rubidium-vapor atomic oscillator (TIMATION III Satellite)

1982 - Portable satellite communications antenna developed

1983 - NRL plays major role in the upgrade of the NAVSPASUR System (originally based on the NRL Minitrack System)

1983 - First successful launch of the the LiPS research satellites, which were developed from launch vehicle protective shields usually jettisoned in space

1984 - NRL gyrodynamic motion simulator developed to aid in spacecraft design

1986 - Development of first star tracker to be radiation hardened to greater than 100 kilorads

1990 - Launch and operation of the SDIO-sponsored (LACE) satellite in support of two Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (then SDIO) experiments

1994 - Launch of the NRL-developed Deep Space Program Science Experiment (DSPSE), also known as Clementine 1, on January 25 as the first unmanned lunar mission in 25 years

1995 - Development of a mission planning and analysis tool for Earth-orbiting satellites called OATS

1995 - Demonstration of a key design advance in clock technology for use in future GPS satellites, providing reduced or eliminated error sources and control instability.

1996 - Deployment of the Tether Physics and Survivability (TiPS) experiment satellite to research the gravity-gradient dynamics and survivability of a tethered system in space

1997 - Revamping of the NRL-developed Titan Launch Dispenser to the Interim Control Module for NASA's International Space Station

1998 - NRL's Naval Center for Space Technology named to U.S. Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame



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