Handwritten journal entry in a lined notebook. Transcription available on the main page.

1958 journal, entry describing launch of Explorer I satellite. George Ludwig Papers, University Archives.

“George Ludwig’s 1958 journal detailed the launch of the Explorer I satellite, America’s first entry in the space race. The enthusiasm of this young graduate assistant working under James Van Allen must have been palpable.”
– David McCartney, co-curator of We Are Hawkeyes: Celebrating 175 Years of Student Life at the University of Iowa.

“Sat morn, 1 Feb, 1958    3:30 AM.

Success!! The first U.S. satellite is in orbit. It looks like a good one. Preliminary computations show perogee [sic] altitude 240 miles and appogee [sic] 2000 miles, minimum life 2 1/2 years, probably life 10 years, period 113 to 114 minutes. Lift off time was 10:47:56 EST Jan 58, and injection time was 10:55:06. Reports were that it was a beautiful launch in every aspect.

I was in the Vanguard hanger(s) during the launch, getting a final calibration on the G.M. tube. At about X-75 minutes started noting the time of upshift of the G.M. sub-carrier. Continued this thru the countdown. At firing time I heard the roar, and soon after the cosmic ray counting rate started to increase. It increased very rapidly until it reached a maximum, then decreased a little. It continued constant until about X + 10 min, at which time the signal faded out.

I returned to the JPL hut to await the first computation, and about half an hour later, […] announced the prediction perogee [sic] 184 miles, min life 2 1/2 years.”

Read more of George Ludwig’s journal entries in the Iowa Digital Library.