"On October 16, 1957, the Aerobee rocket was launched by the US Air Force from White Sands. On reaching an altitude of 56 km the nosecone was separated and upon reaching an altitude of 87 km the charges were triggered producing a -10 visual magnitude flash seen as far as mount Palomar, 1000 km away. In the same images which recorded the flash of the explosion the trail of a -2 visual magnitude meteor, clearly caused by the atmospheric entry of one of the spheres was recorded. The other two spheres were not recorded by any observer and it is possible that, if they were deployed in a correct attitude and having a speed much greater than Earth escape speed (about 11 km/s), they entered a solar orbit, thus becoming the first artificial "planets." - http://utenti.multimania.it/paoloulivi/aerobee.html
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Aerobee rocket launched metal pellets into interplanetary space
On his HPR blog, R2K relays the interesting story of the first attempt to launch an man-made object into interplanetary space. His post has additional discussion. See also http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/181/1/zwicky.pdf.