Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Anniversary: the Launching of Sputnik 1

On October 4th 1957 - 50 years ago today - the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth.

It was 58 cm in diameter and weighed approximately 83.6 kg. It was placed in an elliptical orbit and took about 96 minutes to circle the Earth.

Sputnik 1 is shown in the photograph at right.

The launching of Sputnik caused great consternation amongst the Americans. They feared that it showed that the Soviets were technologically superior and also that the US might be within range of Soviet intercontinental rockets. That, of cause, was a real concern in those Cold War days.


The launching of sputnik led directly to the establishment of NASA in the US in the middle of 1958.

As a seven year old I remember watching Sputnik with my family. I remember being disappointed that it just looked like a star moving across the sky. I think I expected it to look bigger. Although the satellite was very shiny, as can be seen in the photograph, it was actually too small to see from the ground. What we really saw was the burnt out second stage of the rocket booster.

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