i wonder what it would take for this to happen again… would China have to launch people to the moon or mars to get American’s excited about space again?
Fifty-five years ago today, the Soviet Union launched history’s first artificial satellite.
Sputnik was an innocuous satellite; Soviet scientists behind the launch were just happy to successfully put the probe into orbit. But in the United States the reaction was different.
The engineering feat very quickly gave way to hysteria and paranoia. President Eisenhower initially downplayed the role of the satellite as a threat to find that he’d grossly underestimated its psychological impact.
The space age was ushered in 55 years ago today (4 October 1957) with the launch of the satellite Sputnik-1. My favourite quote on Sputnik:
“Nobody back then was thinking about the magnitude of what was going on: everyone did his own job, living through its disappointments and joys.” -Oleg Ivanovsky, deputy designer for Sputnik
A series of posters by justinvg which depict Russian ‘victories’ during the early space race.
- Sputnik 1 (1957) - The announcement by the USSR that they had put this tiny metal ball into orbit was the cause of major concern for the US, sparking the space race.
- Luna Programme (1959-76) - Shortly after sending Sputnik 1 and 2 into Earth’s orbit, the Soviets set their sights even further, and successfully sent 15 probes to the Moon over a period of 17 years.
- Vostok 1 (1961) - The USSR became the first nation to send a person into space when Yuri Gagarin spent 81 minutes orbiting the Earth.
- Voskhod 1 (1965) - This mission saw another milestone set by the Soviets when Alexei Leonov became the first person to perform extra-vehicular activity.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, thus igniting the “space race.” However, compared to today’s standards, the mission was short-lived, as USSR on received radio signals from the craft for a little over three weeks before the transmitter batteries died out. Three months from its launch, on January 4, 1958, Sputnik re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up in the process.