Only five states and territories had launches that got into orbit: Florida, California, Virginia, Alaska and Marshall Islands

But when was the first time for each of those states that a launched rocket reached orbit?

Jon Heller said he would answer this question using his great SQL tools.

Florida is the most easy because it had the first launch of a USA satellite.

  • Florida - 1 February 1958 - Explorer 1

For California I could only find Athena I rocket launching Lewis satellite at 23 August 1997

Related question:

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ All the states are firmly affixed to the surface of the Earth. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2020 at 17:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you mean "an astronaut from each USA state", that's something you should be able to easily research on your own. Wikipedia has time-ordered lists of all crewed spaceflights. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2020 at 17:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Space Exploration, where "research effort" is a slogan. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2020 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ Jon Heller said he would answer with a quick SQL $\endgroup$
    – Joe Jobs
    Dec 17, 2020 at 18:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Florida Had To. Texas was getting close, and we cannot allow a missile gap. Yeah, states were all competitive like that and not on the same team. OK that was being sarcastic, but now I realize it doesn't work when states today actually aren't on the same team. No, it wasn't like that, then. it was Team America against the Soviets, end of subject. $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2020 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


Ok, did some googling…

Florida: Explorer 1, 2/1/1958

California: Discover 1, 2/28/1959

Virginia: Explorer 9, 2/15/1961

Marshall Islands (Kwajalein): HETE-2, 10/9/2000

Alaska (Kodiac): Starshine 3, 9/30/2001

And for extra credit

California has a second launch site at Mojave and Virgin Orbit launched Elana 20 on 1/17/2021. Not a first for California, but a new launch site is always a big deal.


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