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S 56



Explorer S-56 was a 3.7 m sphere intended to determine the density of the earth's atmosphere.

It was the first attempt to place a satellite in orbit using an all-solid propellant launch vehicle and the first orbital attempt made from NASA's Wallops Island facility. The second stage failed to ignite and the spacecraft did not achieve orbit, impacting in the Atlantic Ocean, 130 km east of Wallops Island.

An identically configured launch vehicle with an identical satellite was successfully launched two months later (Explorer 9, 1961-004A).

Alternate Names

  • Explorer S-56
  • S56

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1960-12-04
Launch Vehicle: Scout
Launch Site: Wallops Island, United States
Mass: 6.3 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Space Physics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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