aisling o'beirn
artist documentation site

Sputnik, Installation shot

Sputnik, detail

Sputnik, detail



sputnik 2008

golden thread, belfast
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.

There were 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.

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Sputnik, Animation

Sputnik, detail