Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 1962 - Two Major Canadian Milestones

On  September 3rd 1962 JOhn Dieffenbaker officially opened the Trans Canada Highway at Rogers Pass.   The TCH is the the longest highway in the world stretching 7,821 from St John's to Victoria.

Construction of the highway started in 1949 and a complete link existed as of the fall of 1962 but the road was not fully complete for another nine years.   The Trans Canada Highway predated the US Interstate Highway network by seven years and given the remote terrain of much of Canada and the much smaller population, the TCH was more visionary than the US Interstate.

This is the CBC report of the opening:

Also in September 1962 Canada became the third country in the world to launch its own satellite into orbit.  Alouette 1 was launched on September 29th 1962 on board an American Thor-Agena rocket.   Canadians should be much more aware of the Alouette 1 and the sort of achievement it was at the time.

Satellites were difficult item to build in 1962 and very few teams had the skills to build one.   The UK did not have a team to build their first satellite so they asked NASA to build one for them.   The Alouette 1 is still in orbit and in theory could still be operating today.   One of the major innovations on the Alouette 1 was the batteries on board.

The satellite was intended to have a one year mission but was operated for ten years before being turn off.

Given the era the fact that Canada was the third country to build a satellite is amazing - this country achieved that before the UK, France, China and the rest of the world.

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