International GeoPhysical Year

President Eisenhower's Science Advisory Committee had earlier recommended that a U.S. earth satellite program as a contribution to the International Geophysical Year (IGY) was warranted because of its scientific merit, and especially because it would test "Freedom of Space" as a principle of international law. The U.S. IGY Satellite Program, later called "Vanguard," was approved by the President. James Hagerty, Presidential Press Secretary, called a closed press conference on July 28, 1955, which was followed by a press announcement the next morning, and a press conference with TV and radio coverage that afternoon. Hagerty's statement of July 29 ran as follows:

On behalf of the President, I am now announcing that the President has approved plans by this country for going ahead with the launching of small earth-circling satellites as part of the United States participation in the International Geophysical Year... This program will for the first time in history enable scientists throughout the world to make sustained observations in the regions beyond the earth's atmosphere.

The President expressed personal gratification that the American program will provide scientists of all nations this important and unique opportunity for the advancement of science.

President Eisenhower later explained further in his memoirs, as follows:

In the United States we were careful to keep the earth satellite program separated from the Defense Department's work on long-range ballistic missiles. Though the Navy would supply the launching facilities for the satellite, it was to go into orbit strictly as a peaceful scientific experiment, and was not to interfere with our top priority work on missiles. No secret missile information would be involved in the satellite program; our scientists deliberately planned to share all information acquired with participating scientists all over the world.

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Updated February 2, 2005