Sputnik, Oct 4, 1957

Sputnik 1 starts space race 50 years ago

Sputnik 1: Oct. 4, 1957
The "Sputnik crisis" was a turning point of the Cold War that began on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite. With its intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7 Semyorka, Russia was first out of the starting blocks in the space race.

The "simplest satellite"

Called PS-1, for "Prosteishiy Sputnik" — the Simplest Satellite, Sputnik 1 weighing just 184 pounds, was built in less than three months. Soviet designers built a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas.

Sergey Korolyov

Sergey Korolyov, both visionary scientist and iron-willed manager, pressed the Kremlin to let him launch a satellite. The reaction of the world so impressed Khrushchev that he pressed Korolyov to do it again. Working round-the-clock, Korolyov and his team built another spacecraft in less than a month. On Nov. 3, they launched Sputnik 2, which weighed 1,118 pounds. It carried the world's first living payload, a mongrel dog named Laika, in its tiny pressurized cabin.

Sputnik creates initiatives in science and math

The Sputnik crisis spurred a whole chain of U.S. initiatives, including NASA, NSF, DARPA, and even the "New Math".

The finish line - stepping on the Moon

Russia continued its lead in the space race with a moon probe, a photo of the far side of the Moon, a human in orbit, a woman in orbit, extra-vehicular activity, landing a probe on another planet (Venus), and the first space station. The United States captured the biggest prize, though, putting a human on the Moon (July 20, 1969).

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to the site when I posted my "On This Day" posting this morning (Oct. 4). Oh, well.

posted on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:32pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Just like Sergey Korolyov, I moved my post ahead by two days to make sure I was first.

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 8:44am
Dave at SMM's picture
Dave at SMM says:

I remember when in went up. The Red Russions were into space first and with a payload much larger than our (planned) first ever satellite! Panic!
I took the first round of the new math as a sr in HS -- 1959-1960. Teacher got chapters of the text on a weekly basis just before the part he was to teach. The one math genius i class (age 18) had to help him explain things. When I went to the U in 1960 I got a National Defense student loan -- later called Direct after the USSR mismanged itself i to the ground. Oh, those were the days!

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 2:05pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Me too. I was in 7th grade and was in an experimental new math class in 1960.

posted on Sat, 10/06/2007 - 3:52pm
APRIL's picture
APRIL says:


posted on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 9:55am

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