Discoverer II lifts off on April 13, 1959.
Image: DARPA.

On this date in 1959, Discoverer II, the first satellite to separate a reentry vehicle on command, ejected its reentry vehicle to start its journey back to earth. Because of a timing error, the US believed that the capsule landed somewhere the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, instead of in the recovery zone near Hawaii. The search for this capsule formed the basis of the book and film ‘Ice Station Zebra.’