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James Van Allen dies
Posted: Wed, Aug 9, 2006, 1:41 PM ET (1741 GMT)
Van Allen, James (Univ. of Iowa) James A. Van Allen, the scientist who was one of the pioneers of the early US space program and the discoverer of the Earth-girdling radiation belts that bear his name, passed away Wednesday at the age of 91. Van Allen is best known for developing the instrument that flew on the first successful US satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958; the instrument detected the radiation belts that surround the Earth. Those belts were later named the Van Allen Belts after the University of Iowa scientist. Van Allen was also involved in a number of other NASA planetary missions. Later in his career he became a strong critic of NASA's human spaceflight program, arguing that robotic missions were more effective.
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