The Regents of the University of California established the Space Sciences Laboratory at Berkeley on April 17, 1959, about 18 months after Russia launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I. Professor Samuel Silver was appointed the first Director and the initial research, performed at the Richmond Field Station, concerned space physiology. Between 1963 and 1966, the first space hardware built at the laboratory was flown by Professor Kinsey Anderson’s group on 11 different satellites to measure plasmas in the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts. In 1969, infrared spectrometers, built by Professor George Pimentel’s group, flew to Mars on Mariners VI and VII. This work inaugurated the illustrious history of the Space Sciences Lab. Since then, instruments have been built at SSL to fly on more than 100 satellites. In addition, more than 150 balloons have been flown to measure electric fields, auroral x-rays, hard x-rays and gamma rays, cosmic rays and the cosmic microwave background. And more than two dozen rockets have been built and flown to measure auroral particles, UV emissions, and solar flare nuclei.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Symposium Celebrating SSL’s 50th Anniversary (August 29-30, 2009)
- Space Sciences lab celebrates 50 years & 75 satellites (2009 Press Release)
- A Life Dedicated to Science (2015 Obituary for SSL Nobel Laureate, Charles Hard Townes)
- Robert Lin, UC Berkeley pioneer in experimental space physics, dies at 70 (2012 Obituary for former SSL Director, Robert Peichung Lin)
Forrest Mozer’s talk on the history of the Space Sciences Lab from the 2009, fiftieth anniversary birthday and review of the Lab’s contributions to science.
Combined (Satellite, Balloons, Sounding Rockets and Ground Based) timeline of all projects from 1963 to the present.
Timeline of Satellite projects from 1963 to the present.
Timeline of Balloon and Sounding Rocket projects from 1969 to the present.
Timeline of Ground Based projects from 1969 to the present.