18,000 MPH Basketball
October 4, 1957: Sputnik Launches the Space Age
The first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth, Sputnik 1, is launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, marking what is now considered the beginning of the Space Age. Surprising the world with its successful launch, Sputnik triggered the Space Race between the Soviet Union and United States ushering in an era of rapid advancement in the field of space exploration.
The main body of Sputnik was a shiny metal sphere about 2 feet in diameter (a little more than twice the size of a basketball) it weighed 184 pounds and had four long antennas.
Circling the Earth once every hour and 36 minutes it traveled at 18,000 miles an hour.
Visible with binoculars before sunrise or after sunset, Sputnik transmitted radio signals back to Earth strong enough to be picked up by amateur radio operators. After 3 months in orbit Sputnik’s orbit deteriorated, as expected, and the spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere on January 4, 1958.
Sputnik was some 10 times the size of the first planned U.S. satellite, which was not scheduled to be launched until the next year. The U.S. government, military, and scientific community were caught off guard by the Soviet technological achievement, and their united efforts to catch up with the Soviets heralded the beginning of the “space race.”
The first U.S. satellite, Explorer, was launched on January 31, 1958. By then, the Soviets had already achieved another ideological victory when they launched a dog into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. The Soviet space program went on to achieve a series of other space firsts in the late 1950s and early 1960s: first man in space, first woman, first three men, first space walk, first spacecraft to impact the moon, first to orbit the moon, first to impact Venus, and first craft to soft-land on the moon.
The United States took a giant leap ahead in the space race in the late ’60s with the Apollo lunar-landing program, which successfully landed two Apollo 11 astronauts on the surface of the moon in July 1969.
The identity of the Chief Designer of the Soviet rocket program remained a secret until after his death in 1966. Though the details of his death are unclear, the Soviet paper Pravda printed the obituary of Sergey Korolev a few days after his death.
SPUTNIK – Skilles Johanne (MUSIKKVIDEO)