1966: PasComSat Passive Communications Satellite
“Passive Communications Satellite (PasComSat) was a communications satellite launched by USAF as part of the Orbiting Vehicle program.
“The grid-sphere design as opposed to a fully covered sphere was aimed at reducing the effects of solar pressure and space drag. It was made of a soft aluminum wire grid imbedded in a special plastic designed to dissolve in space under the sun’s strong ultraviolet rays.
“On July 13, 1966, the satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, atop an Atlas rocket. It went into orbit and was automatically inflated with helium. The plastic covering soon dissolved, leaving an open aluminum structure orbiting the earth. Tests indicated that the satellite would remain in orbit for at least 11 years and that it had a reflective power five times greater than that of a solid sphere.
“The satellite decayed from orbit on January 4, 1978.”