“The Ariel 1 satellite – the first British satellite – was launched successfully on 26 April 1962. With its launch, the United Kingdom became the first nation after the two superpowers to have successfully launched a satellite, though this would have been impossible without American help. We were all pleased and relieved that the X-ray instrument seemed to be working as planned…. We were consequently offered the chance of further involvement in American satellites and we were all pretty pleased with ourselves.
However, on 9 July 1962, during the summer just before the Cuban Missile Crisis, which saw the world come dangerously close to nuclear war, a spanner got through into the works. The Americans conducted a high altitude nuclear explosion, code named ‘Starfish’, which had an immediate and lasting effect on the radiation environment of the Ariel 1 satellite. We were note expecting it, and neither, if my memory served me correctly, was NASA – certainly they did not seem to be anticipating it in our contacts with them….”
Article DOI: 10.3366/brw.2014.0151