50 years of the U.S. in Space
Today is the 50th anniversary of the first successful launch by the United States of a space vehicle into orbit. Read about it at space.com.
Explorer 1 helped us catch up to the Soviets after they served us with Sputnik. To see something of the prior, unsuccessful launch attempts by the U.S., see the cooler-looking Vanguard satellite, here.
To see authentic relics of Explorer (above), Vanguard and Sputnik satellites, you need go no further than the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, which was recently declared one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas.