Explorer 1 Satellite (1957)
About the Design
Developed by Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Explorer 1 was a pencil-shaped instrument package with a solid-fuel engine that essentially served as the launch vehicle's fourth stage. Unlike the globe-shaped Sputnik that the Soviets launched in October 1957, Explorer 1 did more than just signal its presence in orbit; it actively conducted scientific readings of the surrounding environment and radioed its findings back to Earth. In fact, its package of sensors, designed by the State University of Iowa's Dr. James van Allen, discovered the radiation belt that now bears his name.
About the Kit
This large-scale kit with a complete interior was first released in the early 1960s by ITC Model Craft, the injection-molded model division of the late great Ideal Toy Company. The Explorer 1 model sat atop a base equipped with a Jack-in-the-Box-style crank that, when rotated, caused the model to turn and emit a mechanically produced "chirp-chirp" sound. The complete kit was subsequently re-released by Glencoe Models in the early 1990s.
This model is one of the Glencoe re-release copies, which still can be found in large numbers.