Samiksha Jaiswal

The M.I.T. Computation Center and Operation Moonwatch

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History of the M.I.T. Computation Center

The M.I.T. Computation Center, United States, organized in 1956 [1], housed an IBM 704 up until 1960 [2].

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The M.I.T. Computation Center and Operation Moonwatch

After the successful launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, the race was on to calculate and predict where the first man-made satellites would appear in the sky. Fred Lawrence Whipple, then director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge Massachusetts, had gathered amateur astronomers to track artificial satellites in an organization called Operation Moonwatch. The aim was to get the position of the satellite in order to obtain its orbital elements. There were three separate orbiting objects which resulted from the launch of Sputnik: The satellite with radio transmitter, a nose cone and a booster rocket. The first "satisfactory orbit" calculated by the IBM 704 as official tracker for the SAO occurred at 7AM on October 11, 1957 and was for the booster rocket.

References

The M.I.T. Computation Center and Operation Moonwatch Wikipedia


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