20 Little Known Facts About Satellites That’ll Impress You


AMSAT-OSCAR 7, an amateur radio satellite which was launched in 1974 was thought to have failed in 1981, but it remained intermittently functional. It allowed Polish anti-communist activists to safely and clandestinely communicate when martial law was imposed in 1983. The telephone network had been shuttered, and other communication methods were too easily discovered.

12Corona spy satellite

After a classified Corona spy satellite's film capsule was found by Venezuelan farmers and broken open, the US realized that labeling it "Secret" was a bad idea. Later capsules offered in eight languages a reward for returning it to American officials.


There is a satellite named STRaND-1 in orbit that's running a Nexus 1 Android as one of its main CPU's.


Satellites are programmed to avoid meteorites so they don't get destroyed. With over 8,000 satellites orbiting the Earth, only one has ever been destroyed by a meteorite.


When the Skylab satellite crashed in Australia in 1979, Australia issued the US a fine for littering. NASA still hasn’t paid the fine.


The first private satellite named OSCAR 1 was launched in 1962 (about 4 years after the launch of Sputnik-1). It was built by an amateur radio club and orbited the earth for 22 days transmitting the message "Hi" in Morse code.

17Envisat satellite

Since we lost contact with the giant Envisat satellite it's become the likeliest cause of a future 'Kessler Syndrome' whereby a low earth orbit collision causes a cascade of thousands more - potentially making space exploration and satellite use untenable for generations

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18Himawari 8

Himawari 8 is a geostationary Japanese satellite that takes pictures of the Earth above Australia and Japan every 10 minutes.

19Vanguard 1

Vanguard 1, launched in 1958, was the fourth orbital satellite, but first to be solar powered and although communication with it was lost in 1964, it remains the oldest manmade satellite still in orbit and has already completed more than 220,000 Earth orbits.


GeoEye-1, the satellite that provides Google with imagery for Google Maps, provides the US government with the same imagery but at a higher resolution.


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