Nimbus-1 Weather Satellite: From Launch to STAR TREK

Forty-five years ago today — August 28, 1964 — the Nimbus-1 satellite, “the first in a series of second-generation meteorological research-and-development satellites,” launched from Vandenberg AFB on a Thor-Agena rocket.

(Nimbus Satellite Diagram, from

According to the National Space Science Data Center,

a short second-stage burn resulted in an unplanned eccentric orbit. Otherwise, the spacecraft and its experiments operated successfully until September 22, 1964. The solar paddles became locked in position, resulting in inadequate electrical power to continue operations.

Nevertheless, Nimbus-1 produced the first nighttime cloud-cover images from space and was followed by six more satellites in the Nimbus series.

So where does STAR TREK come in? According to Memory Alpha, a diagram of Nimbus-1 in its polar orbit was part of the data accessed by the Talosians when they scanned the Enterprise‘s data banks in the original pilot episode “The Cage.”

Science fact meets science fiction … I like it.

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