On the night/morning of September 28/29 fifty years ago a Thor-Agena rocket took off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Nestled in its nosecone was a satellite built completely outside the United Sates of America. When the rocket reached the right height a deployed its payload: Alouette 1. This all-Canadian satellite gave Canada the great distinction of being the third nation build its own satellite and have it reach Earth orbit.
Alouette was used to study the Earth’s ionosphere and helped pave the way for the communications satellites that were to come and whose descendants are still used today.
Ten years after it started its research, Alouette was turned off. This amazing Canadian satellite far outlasting its one-year expected life span and; in 1966, was expected to remain in orbit for 1000 years. Today, Alouette still orbits the Earth and is a testament to the great minds and the cooperative nature of our space program that led to the Canadian Space Agency.
Hopefully as we celebrate 50 years of being in space, it will encourage more young Canadians to want to explore space in all forms and work towards being a part of the amazing quest to understand not only our universe, but us and our unique little planet as well.
For more information on Alouette read this great article from Space Ref Canada.