New Agency's First Satellite

Forty years ago today — December 11, 1970 — the newly-formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched its first satellite.

(Graphic of ITOS satellite, from Wikimedia Commons. NOAA image.)

NOAA-1, also known as Improved TIROS Operational Satellite-A (ITOS-A),* launched from Cape Canaveral on a Thor-Delta rocket. It was the first satellite to carry the NOAA designation, since NOAA had just come into being as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce on October 3, 1970. (Though they just completed their 40th year, at the time of this writing this page celebrates their 30th anniversary.)

For those interested in such things, here’s an August 1968 Technical Memorandum on the ITOS satellite.

*Got to love the acronym-within-an-acronym: the full name would be the Improved Television and Infrared Observation Satellite Operational Satellite.

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