RE: Motion Picture of Sputnik 1 Rocket from Baltimore on October 12, 1957

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Tue Jul 16 2013 - 00:14:46 UTC

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    I have continued to research the story behind the kinescope of Sputnik 1 rocket, shot by WJZ-TV Baltimore, which has
    resulted in a much revised and I believe improved web page (the video itself is unchanged). There are no major new
    revelations, but I can now tell the story with greater confidence, in a more straightforward manner, in a bit more detail.
    For example, instead of having to deduce the USAF Cambridge Research Center's (AFCRC) leading role, I now have a bit of
    well-sourced supporting information. A contemporaneous article in the Daily Boston Globe on WBZ-TV Boston's broadcast
    incorporating the Baltimore kinescope was especially helpful, and is much-referenced.
    I have now recognized MIT's role in support of the SAO, through its work on the orbit computations. I have also provided
    a bit of context, mainly by pointing out a few of the early contributors to knowledge of the orbit, that enabled the SAO
    to support the Baltimore imaging project. The role of radio observation and analysis of the payload in determining the
    first reasonably accurate orbits is stated. As just one example, there is a link to the minutes of the Royal
    Astronomical Society meeting of October 11, 1957, with a personal report by Sir Martin Ryle FRS on the initial results
    obtained by the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (Cambridge).
    The brilliant rocket was soon spotted visually and optically, near its payload, in a similar orbit, and there are links
    to information on a few of the Australian military and amateur observation sites that made the majority of the initial
    accurate optical and visual observations. As with the radio, these are meant to provide some context, not as complete
    definitive accounts of who did what and when.
    The main focus is of course on how and why the Baltimore kinescope was made. I have expanded the discussion of topics
    for further research, in the hope of learning more. I discuss some of the apparent features of the film cameras used to
    image the kinescope, in the hope of someday attracting comment from folks with relevant expertise. I am also curious
    about a report I just found that the AFCRC used WBZ to send a signal that triggered cameras near Cambridge, Mass.,
    apparently for triangulation photography of Sputnik 1, sometime before October 21.
    Finally, I have provided additional information on the editing of the present video.
    Suggestions and corrections welcome.
    Leads to additional information on the above topics and all matters relevant to how and why the Baltimore motion picture
    was made would be appreciated.
    This web page is intended to eventually support a collection of web pages on the orbital history of Sputnik 1 rocket. I
    envision a few other similar pages on other interesting imagery I have collected, as well as pages on observing sites
    and methods of the day.
    Ted Molczan
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