Inflation Test of 135 Ft Satellite In Weeksville, NC

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Collection: NASA Image eXchange Collection
Title: Inflation Test of 135 Ft Satellite In Weeksville, NC

Description: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration 100-foot-diameter satellite, designed by the Space Vehicle Group of the NASA Langley Research Center and constructed by General Mills of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was shown during ground inflation tests in 1959. Suspended from the ceiling of a hangar the sphere, named "Echo." was inflated by use of a blower connected to the satellite by a hose. Forty thousand pounds of air was required to inflate the sphere on the ground, while in orbit it only required several pounds of gas to keep it inflated. Echo was a passive communications satellite which reflected radio and radar signals as a limited communications relay. It was also used, over a period of time and with accurate tracking, to plot the variations in air density at the top of the atmosphere by following the vagaries of its orbit. With a weight of 150 pounds, the satellite was inflated in space. It did not have a rigid skin and accordingly was used at high altitudes where it would be subjected to negligible aerodynamic drag force. To keep the sphere inflated in spite of meteorite punctures and skin permeability, a make-up gas system using evaporating liquid or crystals of a subliming solid were incorporated inside the satellite.

Date: 06.28.1961
Credit: NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC)
ID: EL-1996-00052
Other ID: L61-4623
UID: SPD-NIX-EL-1996-0005 2
Original url:


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  1. iowafrogfarmer 40 months ago | reply

    Geez - I remember going out at night and waiting for Echo to come overhead. The local paper in Moline would print a listing of times for flyovers. Always have been a space nut - always will be.

  2. Michael Hand 37 months ago | reply

    In the early 60s, as a boy, I used to watch for Echo I and Echo II. Their times over the UK were published in the Daily Telegraph. They were bright - brighter than any satellites since. I'd impress friends by predicting that these moving 'stars' would suddenly go out. They always did, because the satellites moved into the Earth's shadow. They moved quite fast, crossing the sky in just a few minutes.

  3. tedd4u 35 months ago | reply

    Looks like one of Cave Johnson's Aperture research enrichment testing spheres.

  4. grespe 26 months ago | reply

    ¡Es enorme!

  5. Marcelo Pisani Garib 24 months ago | reply

    Assustadoramente grande!

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