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James Van Allen

Age: 91

physicist who made the first major discovery of the Space Age—two radiation belts that circle Earth. They were later named in his honor. The belts were discovered when Explorer I, the United States' first satellite, was launched into Earth's orbit on Jan. 31, 1958. Van Allen had designed a Geiger counter for the satellite, which detected the radiation belts.

Died: Iowa City, Iowa, Aug. 9, 2006

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