Los Alamos in SPACE
Since the launches of the first man-made objects (Sputnik and Explorer 1) to orbit the Earth more than a half-century ago, thousands of spacecraft have been launched, many of those carrying Los Alamos sensors and instrumentation systems. Our journey began with the research and development of a two-decade-long nuclear rocket program, Project Rover.
In the 1950s, Los Alamos scientists, building on their nuclear expertise, examined new methods for rocket propulsion into space. In December 1960, in the thick of the Cold War and during negotiation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) first met to discuss a space-based system to detect nuclear explosions in the atmosphere and space. The nation turned to Los Alamos for development of instruments to detect radiation from such a detonation as well as to understand the Earth's space environment, mostly unknown at the time.