San Marco 1

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San Marco 1
San Marco 1.jpg
Mission type Ionospheric
Earth science
Operator CNR
COSPAR ID 1964-084A
SATCAT no. 00957Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration ~272 days
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass 115.2 kilograms (254 lb)[1]
Start of mission
Launch date December 15, 1964, 20:24:00 (1964-12-15UTC20:24Z) UTC[1]
Rocket Scout X-4[2]
Launch site Wallops LA-3A
End of mission
Decay date September 13, 1965[1]
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Eccentricity 0.0469[1]
Perigee 198.0 kilometres (123.0 mi)[1]
Apogee 846.0 kilometres (525.7 mi)[1]
Inclination 37.80 degrees[1]
Period 94.9 minutes[1]
Epoch December 15 1964 20:24:00 UTC
San Marco 1 being loaded into the Scout rocket fairing

San Marco 1, also known as San Marco A, was the first Italian satellite. Built in-house by the Italian Space Research Commission (Italian: Commissione per le Ricerche Spaziali, CRS) on behalf of the National Research Council, it was the first of five as part of the Italian-US San Marco programme.

The name of the spacecraft series comes from the San Marco platform, a Jackup barge used as an offshore launch pad for the main phase of the project. San Marco (English: Saint Mark) is the patron saint of Venice, often depicted as aiding Venetian sailors.[3]


In 1961 the Italian government, led by Amintore Fanfani, approved a plan for the development of an indigenous satellite research programme that had earlier been proposed by the CRS. At the time only the Soviet Union and the United States had launched spacecraft into orbit and Italy lacked a suitable launcher and crews trained in firing orbital rockets. As a result, a cooperative plan was developed with the American space agency NASA who would provide the rockets and the launch crew training for Italians to operate them.[3]

The spacecraft was built by members of the CRS, a group of distinguished Italian scientists and engineers including Edoardo Amaldi, co-founder of major European scientific organisations including CERN and ESRO.

The mission was principally a test-flight of a real satellite to gain experience before launches from Italy's own San Marco platform began, the last of 3 phases of the project.[4]


The primary mission of the San Marco series was to conduct ionospheric (upper-atmosphere) research. As a test satellite San Marco 1 contained relatively few experiments;

  • Atmosphere, an Ion probe.
  • Electron-content Beacon, a radio transmitter to study ionospheric effects on long-range radio communication.


San Marco 1 was launched by an Italian crew using an American Scout rocket from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, US. Launched on December 15, 1964 at 20:24:00 UTC the satellite destructively re-entered the atmosphere on September 13, 1965.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "San Marco 1". NASA – National Space Science Data Centre. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  2. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "San Marco 1, 2 (A, B)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  3. ^ a b "II. SATELLITES". NASA History Office. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  4. ^ "Chapter 18 - Cooperation With Western Countries". NASA History Office. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 

External links[edit]