Building the Deal I satellite

The JPL had the overall responsibility for designing, building, and testing the Deal I instrument package that became Explorer I. Of course, they also built the upper rocket stages and the Microlock ground network.

My direct responsibility in that first satellite was for the circuit design and perfor­mance of the GM counter, its high-voltage power supply, and the associated scaler circuits. It included the full responsibility for calibrating the GM counters and for verifying the satisfactory overall performance of the scientific instrument.

Edward Manring and Maurice Dubin at the AFCRC near Boston provided the fine wire grids and microphones for detecting micrometeorites, and Temple University in Philadelphia provided the tuned microphone amplifiers for them.

The U. S. Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, un­der the arrangement that I had made with them earlier, delivered flight-qualified component kits for the high-voltage power supplies for our Geiger counters. They also provided quartz crystals for the JPL-built transmitters.


By late November, JPL had set up the entire organizational structure for both the Deal I and II projects.22 It was quite a readjustment for me to shift from the environment at SUI, where I was in full control of all satellite technical activities, to that at JPL, where I was a junior engineer enmeshed in a huge organization with no clear line of authority. I had lost most of my control over what was happening to “my graduate research project.”

In actual fact, I was involved in one way or another with most of the decisions involving our instruments. As with most rush projects of this nature, a lively in­formal process operated behind the scenes, and it was usually possible for me to work directly with whomever I thought necessary. On the senior management level, I enjoyed a very pleasant and effective working relationship with JPL di­rector Bill Pickering, project director Jack Froehlich, consultant Eb Rechtin, head of satellite instrumentation Walter (Walt) Victor, head of satellite observations Al Hibbs, head of satellite and Microlock antennas Bob Stevens, and, of course, Henry Richter.

My contacts with engineers and technicians on the working level were especially memorable, and I remember many of those friends with great fondness. In addition to Henry Richter, John Collins, and Dean Slaughter, they included Bill Pilkington, Lee Randolph, and Lee Zanteson.

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