Glencoe 1/6 Explorer I

KIT #: 05901
PRICE: $9.98 when new
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1961 tooling

Explorer 1 was the first satellite launched by the United States in 1958 and was part of the U.S. participation in the International Geophysical Year (IGY). The mission followed the first two satellites the previous year; the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2, beginning the Cold War Space Race between the two nations.

Explorer 1 was launched on 1 February 1958 at 03:47:56 GMT (or 31 January 1958 at 22:47:56 Eastern Time) atop the first Juno booster from LC-26A at the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Center of the Atlantic Missile Range (AMR), in Florida. It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt, returning data until its batteries were exhausted after nearly four months. It remained in orbit until 1970.

Explorer 1 was given Satellite Catalog Number 00004 and the Harvard designation 1958 Alpha 1, the forerunner to the modern International Designator.


Glencoe's kit of the Explorer I is a rebox of the older ITC kit of 1961. Glencoe acquired all the old ITC tooling and this was one of those kits. This kit was released in 1991 and again in 2008.

The kit is of the satellite itself and not the main Jupiter C booster (called Juno 1). At 1/6 scale the completed model will stand around a foot tall. As you'd expect, you are able to build up the interior items of the satellite. Much of the space in the interior is taken up by a fuel tank. The upper section has two interesting constructs the purpose of which I have no clue. This is encased in a lattice work that is then installed in one of the body halves. There is a nozzle assembly that fits below all this. One half of the satellite has a door you can open to display the interior. Four sections of wire are provided for the antennas that jut out the sides. 

A rather neat part of this kit is a rather large display stand. Inside this stand are a number of gears. These lead out to a crank handle on the side and a small rotating platform on the upper part. Atop this platform, one places the satellite and so it can be cranked to display all sides of it.

The instructions are all pictograms with generic color information. Each of the construction steps is easy to follow so there should be no issue assembling the kit. A decal sheet is provided that has two markings for the stand and one for the satellite body. Note that the black areas shown will need to be painted on so there will be masking required.


As this is a fairly old kit, I'm going to assume that careful construction will be needed to get everything to work well. I'd recommend some grease for the gears in the stand to help smooth things along.


July 2022

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