Milestone-Proposal:TIROS 1

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Docket #:2009-03</div> This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Edit with form", check the "Submit this proposal for review" box at the bottom, and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy.

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?

Was it of at least regional importance?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:


Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Princeton Central Jersey Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

Unit: IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Sarnoff Corporation [Entrance] 201 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ, 08540

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The building for the mounting of the Plaque is the former RCA Labs and currently a Sarnoff Corporation facility for research operations and new business development.The work cited in this nomination was performed in several RCA facilities: RCA Labs, RCA Camden and RCA Astro. The building for the mounting of the Plaque is the former RCA Labs and it currently exists, and two prior IEEE Milestone plaques are mounted in the same location.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

For public access the plaques are displayed on the exterior of the Sarnoff Corp (Formerly RCA Labs) building headquarters main entrance under a three story roof, and on marble surfaces. The work cited in this nomination was performed in several RCA facilities, RCA Labs, RCA Camden and RCA Astro. The building for the mounting of the RCA Plaque is the former RCA Labs and it currently or actually exists. (See photo attached.)

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Stanford Research Institute (SRI) is the parent to the current occupant Sarnoff Corporation

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

Television Infra-Red Observation Satellite (TIROS) became the world’s first meteorological satellite on April 1, 1960 when the newly formed NASA launched the spacecraft in response to a 1958 Presidential directive to initiate peaceful applications of technology in space. TIROS demonstrated the feasibility of space observation to provide by direct observation large scale weather patterns worldwide to provide advance warning to saves lives and minimize property damage.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

After U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik into space in Oct. 1957, this escalated the Cold War to a new plateau and intensity, the U.S. Government was in a crash program to compete in the space race for national prestige and security. The success of TIROS was critical to meet these political goals, and also demonstrate peaceful uses of space.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Being the first weather satellite, TIROS 1 equipment had to meet weight constraints and be rugged to withstand launch and space environments. Following the USSR launch of Sptunik in 1957, USA officials were challenged in a space race and sought a successful project to respond. Television cameras employed small imaging sensor, the ½” Vidicon developed by RCA Laboratories in 1956 with sufficient light sensitivity and resolution for this mission. Under classified contracts, the camera electronics were transistorized to reduce the size and weight had been successfully demonstrated in early military tests by the USA ABMA Program. Following a series of classified presentations in late 1957 in Washington DC by RCA Labs a team to DoD and CIA at the highest levels, to USAF system consultants, and the U.S. House committee of jurisdiction, the U.S. Government approved the initiative and began to mobilize a space meteorological mission. RCA Labs continued work on the camera space lens, shutter systems were matched to the mission and the electronics miniaturized to meet the data rate formats.

The launch vehicles with sufficient thrust to reach suitable observation altitudes were developed for Cold War military applications. The Thor Able rocket development by the USAF groups and the Douglas Aircraft, were combined with of the USN Vanguard program and matched to achieve suitable performance. ARPA directed the ABMA to transfer management of the space development components to USASCDRL, at Fort Monmouth, NJ, who had directed development of WWV worldwide time base tracking networks, planned the command and data acquisition system for the mission. RCA Camden developed under contracts rugged and light weight video recorders for TIROS 1. When NASA was to be formed, RCA created the Astro Electronics Products unit, that developed the spacecraft system including the structure, power system, communications system and dynamics controls to control the spacecraft momentum for normal space observations of earth and supplied the compatible Command and Data Acquisition to Fort Monmouth’s Camp Evans facility for deployment at primary and secondary stations.

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).