Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
(800) 937-3880

Lot #567
Project Vanguard

This lot has closed

Estimate: $800+
Own a Similar Item?


Impressive historic archive of John Neilon, the long-time Director of NASA’s Unmanned Launch Operations, chronicling the development of Project Vanguard, intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth orbit. Several documents were also originally the property of Robert H. Grey, Neilon’s predecessor as Expendable Launch Operations Director at Cape Canaveral.

The archive is composed of extensive paperwork and documents related to the program and the successful 1958 launch of the Vanguard I rocket, the second U.S. orbital launch. Highlights include:

• A unique, extremely rare, highly-detailed “Master Sequence Diagram/Vanguard Satellite Launching Vehicle/Naval Research Lab” chart measuring six feet by two feet, dated July 2, 1959.

• A high-resolution, color 36” x 40” photo on heavy stock of the Vanguard I launch from Cape Canaveral on March 17, 1958.

• A complete, original NASA countdown document for Vanguard TV-5 (April 1958).

The accompanying document archive is divided into three period folders marked, “Vanguard, Misc. Plans—Directives—Memos,” “Vanguard, Vanguard-I, TV-4, Test Reports, Countdown Summaries,” and “Vanguard, Flight Summaries.”

Also included: a brad-bound “Martin Vanguard Safety Manual,” dated June 16, 1958, in a Glenn L. Martin Company folder; a folder containing copies and packets related to the Vanguard I countdown and launch; two folders containing notes, schedules, and spread sheets for various Vanguard I launch anniversaries; and a variety of Florida newspapers dated between 1956 and 1959 featuring Vanguard related articles (including two front pages from the 1957 failure); in overall very good to fine condition.

In response to the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, and the failure of America’s Vanguard TV3 two months later, the United States successfully launched Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958, the first satellite launched by the U.S. On March 17, 1958, Vanguard 1 became the second artificial satellite placed in Earth orbit by the U.S., and the first ever solar-powered satellite. At a mere six inches in diameter and weighing just three pounds, Vanguard 1 was described by then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as 'the grapefruit satellite.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #583 - Ended May 13, 2020