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OTD in Space – February 28: Discoverer 1 Spy Satellite Goes Missing After Launch

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On February 28, 1959, the U.S. Air Force launched a new spy satellite prototype called Discoverer 1. This was the first satellite that NASA launched toward the south pole in an attempt to put it in a polar orbit. But the mission didn't go entirely according to plan. After Discoverer 1 passed out of radar range somewhere in the southern hemisphere, it went missing. The Air Force had prematurely announced that the satellite had reached orbit, but they had no way of proving it. In fact, no one had a clue about the whereabouts of Discoverer 1. A CIA report that was declassified in 1995 states that it probably crashed somewhere around the south pole.

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