Saturday Scenes

Thu 7 June 2012

All the way to the moon!

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:13

On the 2nd of June in 1957, the Franklin was launched as a part of Operation Plumbbob, a series of nuclear experiments at the Nevada Test Site. The Franklin test was of a XW-30 warhead, a boosted all-oralloy fission design. It fizzled, yielding only 7% of its predicted 2 kilotonnes (equivalent weight in TNT) yield.

However, the next tests were more successful and the Pascal B, fired in August 1957, may have led to the first man-made object propelled into orbit.

Operation Plumbbob

Brownlee put the bomb at the bottom of a 500-foot vertical tunnel in the Nevada desert, sealing the opening with a four-inch thick steel plate weighing several hundred pounds. He knew the lid would be blown off; he didn’t know exactly how fast.

High-speed cameras caught the giant manhole cover as it began its unscheduled flight into history. Based upon his calculations and the evidence from the cameras, Brownlee estimated that the steel plate was traveling at a velocity six times that needed to escape Earth’s gravity when it soared into the flawless blue Nevada sky. ‘We never found it. It was gone,’ Brownlee says, a touch of awe in his voice almost 35 years later.

The following October the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, billed as the first man-made object in Earth orbit. Brownlee has never publicly challenged the Soviet’s claim. But he has his doubts.

Fifty-five years later, on the 2nd of June 2012, the following photographs sky-rocketed in popularity once they were tweeted to SatScenes:

And these are the star-bound sensations who took them!

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