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Below I've assembled some research into the question of which launch is actually the first to carry two satellites into orbit, but so far I think the results are inconclusive. So despite there being discussion of this in other posts, I think this issue of history and records in Space Exploration still needs its own, definitive answer.

Question: What is the first time that two satellites were launched together as the same payload?


Background/research:

The first launch that I could find it is this:

22 June 1960 - Thor Ablestar

  • Transit 2A
  • GRAB-1

but maybe there are other launches before that?

Failed launches also count

Related questions:

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    $\begingroup$ +1 I think that this is a good and well-researched question and I've made an edit to differentiate it from previous questions in hopes that it can receive a definitive answer. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 23 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ I found in the JSR launch database this - 1959 Apr 13 - Thor Agena A - Discoverer 2 and SRV - successful launch, but I can't find what SRV is $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Jan 23 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ SRV is the General Electric Satellite Return Vehicle, which returns the film capsule from a Keyhole spy satellite. So, I would count this as a component of the satellite, not a separate second satellite. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Jan 23 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ A dummy mass simulator SOLRAD was successfully launched on 13 April 1960, attached to Transit 1B, proving the dual satellite launch technique - rocket: Thor Ablestar - Though it does't mention of they actually separated and orbited as two separate satellites $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Jan 23 at 3:11
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    $\begingroup$ Vanguard SLV-5 launched on 14 April 1959 - failed to launch two satellites. This one seems to be the first attempt - Vanguard SLV-5 hoped to put into orbit two satellites: the Vanguard 3A satellite, a magnetometer, and a 76 cm (30 in) round inflatable sphere with an air density measurement device - looks like 3 satellites though, I'm confused $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Jan 23 at 3:13

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