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Q. What was Canada's first satellite? — Eward F.
A. Alouette-1 was Canada's first satellite.
Alouette-1 was launched to space on September 29, 1962, by a U.S. Thor-Agena rocket from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.

With that successful launch by the United States, Canada became the third country in the world to have a satellite in orbit, after the Soviet Union and the United States.

Canada's Alouette-1 satellite
Canada's Alouette-1 satellite
in space in an artist's concept
Alouette was an atmospheric studies satellite.

The ionosphere is an electrically charged layer of Earth's upper atmosphere. Before the invention of communications satellites, radio signals were transmitted over long distances by bouncing them off the ionosphere. Communication was not fully reliable because clouds of ionized atmosphere move and shift. Signals also are disrupted sometimes by the aurora borealis – the northern lights. To learn more about radio propagation and the ionosphere, scientists wanted to look down on the ionosphere from above.

Alouette-1 served that purpose. The satellite sent down more than a million images of the top side of the ionosphere for ten years.



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