curated by declan mcgonigle
'Sputnik 1' was the first manmade satellite in space, launched
on Oct 4th, 1957 by the USSR. It was a highly polished sphere with
4 antennas, a diameter of 58 cm, weighing 84 kg. 'Sputnik' is the
Russian for 'traveling companion' or 'satellite'. 'Sputnik' orbited
the earth twice on an elliptical orbit, each orbit taking between
96 and 98 minutes. Because of its small size it was not visible
to the naked eye from earth.
The USA was caught off guard by the
project. They had been developing rockets and satellites but had
not yet launched anything of this nature. The shock of the success
of Sputnik prompted the USA to found NASA and effectively saw the
start of the space war between the USA and the USSR.
other generations of 'Sputnik', including 'Sputnik 2' which brought
the first dog (called Laika) into space, never to return. Subsequent
'Sputnik' satellites carried dogs, several mice and a variety of
plants into space, all of which returned safely to earth.