As is known, the USSR was the first to launch the artificial Earth satellite. The Americans spurred by public outrage had to join the Space Race and launched their first satellite by name of Explorer-1 in 1958. Werner von Braun was the designer of this spacecraft. The founding father of German
V rockets actually saved the face of the US after the failure start of other satellite – Vanguard-1. In order to cut the launch timeframe, Werner von Braun used the existing ballistic rocket, but attached 11 solid-fuel boosters to it. The last booster did not detach from the rocket, so the American satellite was 10 times behind the Soviet craft in payload weight (8.3 kg for Explorer). The equipment including Geiger counter and meteoric-particle detector accounted for 4.5 kg of it. Nevertheless, the Americans managed to make an important discovery. The fact is that their satellite was moving along a higher-altitude orbit if compared with our craft, and the contact with it would be lost from time to time. American scientist James van Allen suggested the existence of radiation belts around the Earth. Later, the hypothesis was verified and proved true, while the belts were named after James van Allen.