Oldest Artificial Satellite Still In Orbit

Oldest Artificial Satellite Still In Orbit

At present, there are over 8,200 satellites that are currently orbiting the Earth, and out of these, only around 4,500 satellites are still active. The first satellite was launched back in 1957, and the world has seen thousands of satellites ever since.

Still, it begs the question: which of the oldest satellites are still in orbit? In this article, we will walk you through a list of the oldest satellites that still orbit the Earth today.

Let’s dive right in! 


Launch date: 1976 and 1992
Country that launched it: United States of America
Satellite’s purpose: Studying the solar system
Builder: NASA

LAGEOSPhoto Source

The last item on our list of artificial satellites that are still in orbit is LAGEOS. LAGEOS stands for Laser Geodynamics Satellite or Laser Geometric Environmental Observation Survey, and refers to two separate research satellites. They were specially designed to produce data and work on geodynamical studies of the Earth. 

One of these satellites was launched in 1976, and the other was launched in 1992. 

Did you know? 

These two satellites are aluminum and brass-covered spheres that look similar to disco balls. This is because they are covered with cube-corner retroreflectors.

4. Voyager 1

Launch date: 5 September 1977
Country that launched it: United States of America
Satellite’s purpose: Environmental research and studying the solar system
Builder: NASA

Voyager 1Photo Source

Just like Voyager 2, Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and has been operating for over 45 years now. This satellite is particularly interesting because it uses NASA’s Deep Space Network to communicate with Earth, transmit data, and receive commands. The reason that this satellite was launched before its sister satellite was that both satellites were sent on completely different trajectories.

NASA also wanted to take advantage of a planetary alignment that occurred only once every 175 years. This is why one spacecraft was sent before the other. It’s also worth noting that both Voyager 1 and 2 are identical. 

Did you know? 

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the only human-made object that is as far away from the Earth as it is. It’s been 45 years, and this satellite is still transferring data to the Earth about the Solar System’s edge. Isn’t that amazing?

3. Voyager 2

Launch date: 20 August 1977
Country that launched it: United States of America
Satellite’s purpose: Environmental research and studying the solar system
Builder: NASA

Voyager 2Photo Source

Even though its name suggests otherwise, the Voyager 2 satellite was launched before Voyager 1. NASA launched it in 1977 to study the outer solar system. Its mission was to study interstellar space outside of the Sun’s heliosphere as well as the outer planets of the solar system. 

This satellite hasn’t stopped operating for 45 years and is now 19.903 billion km away from the earth! It’s interesting to note that even though this satellite was launched in 1977, it reached interstellar space in 2018. 

Did you know?

Voyager 2 is the only space satellite that has reached both of the ice giant planets, Neptune and Uranus. It reached Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989.


Launch date: 5 September November 15, 1974
Country that launched it: United States of America
Satellite’s purpose: Communication satellite
Builder: AMSAT

AMSAT-OSCAR 7Photo Source

The AMSAT-OSCAR 7 is a pretty interesting satellite to learn about. It is an amateur radio satellite and was constructed by Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation way back in 1974. It was constructed because AMSAT wanted to grow Amateur Radio’s participation in communication and space research. 

Since it’s one of the oldest amateur satellite constructed, it’s extremely impressive that it has stood the test of time in space! It has two amateur radio transponders and four beacons. 

Did you know?

After this satellite was launched in 1974, it operated until its battery failed in 1981, leaving researchers disappointed. However, about 21 years later, researchers heard it again! After doing some digging, astrophysicists discovered that this satellite had remained functional the entire time and was being used to communicate with an anticommunist organization. If that isn’t an interesting piece of history, we don’t know what is!

1. Vanguard 1

Launch date: 17 March 1958
Country that launched it: United States of America
Satellite’s purpose: Environmental research
Builder: United States Naval Research Laboratory

Vanguard 1Photo Source

Vanguard 1 was built in 1958 and was the fourth artificial satellite to be launched into outer space! It was one of the first satellites to have solar electric power. It was specially designed to study the effects of space environments on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. 

Although this satellite has been around for over 65 years, humans lost contact with it in 1964. Still, it has remained in space for several decades, and continues to be the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit.

Did you know?

Vanguard 1 has lasted for so long in space because of how small it is. This satellite weighs only 1.46 kilograms, and is 6.5 inches wide. Its antennae span three feet, and is powered by a mercury battery.


In this article, we walked you through a list of some of the oldest satellites that are still in orbit! One of the most fascinating features of these satellites is how they have managed to stand the test of time. While thousands of other satellites were launched several decades ago, most of them have no lasted as long as the ones on this list. 

Still, it’s always interesting to do a deep dive into the satellites floating around in space! 

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