Discovering the Cosmos with Small Spacecraft

The American Explorer Program

  • Brian Harvey

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Space Exploration book sub series (SPACEE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Brian Harvey
    Pages 1-50
  3. Brian Harvey
    Pages 51-137
  4. Brian Harvey
    Pages 138-173
  5. Brian Harvey
    Pages 174-253
  6. Brian Harvey
    Pages 254-270
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 271-281

About this book


Explorer was the original American space program and Explorer 1 its first satellite, launched in 1958. Sixty years later, it is the longest continuously running space program in the world, demonstrating to the world how we can explore the cosmos with small spacecraft. Almost a hundred Explorers have already been launched. 

Explorers have made some of the fundamental discoveries of the Space Age.Explorer 1 discovered Earth’s radiation belts. Later Explorers surveyed the Sun, the X-ray and ultraviolet universes, black holes, magnetars and gamma ray bursts. An Explorer found the remnant of the Big Bang. One Explorer chased and was the first to intercept a comet.

The program went through a period of few launches during the crisis of funding for space science in the 1980s. However, with the era of ‘faster, cheaper, better,’ the program was reinvented, and new exiting missions began to take shape, like Swift and the asteroid hunter WISE. 

Discovering the Cosmos with Small Spacecraft gives an account of each mission and its discoveries. It breaks down the program into its main periods of activity and examines the politics and debate on the role of small spacecraft in space science.  It introduces the launchers (Juno, Thor, etc.), the launch centers, the ground centers and key personalities like James Van Allen who helped develop and run the spacecraft’s exciting programs.


Unmanned Space Exploration Explorer space program explorer launchers Goddard Space Flight Center GSFC James Van Allen NASA history Wernher von Braun United States space program artificial satellite history

Authors and affiliations

  • Brian Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.TempleogueIreland

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2018
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-68138-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-68140-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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