In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth. This remarkable achievement is widely credited with starting the race between the United States and Russia to be the first country to land astronauts on the Moon and dominate space exploration.
Sputnik emitted a continuous beep signal that could be heard by radio operators around the world.
Photo: Sputnik 1 (NSSDC/NASA)
A small Soviet satellite starts the Space Age.
He faced great challenges building the first telescope at Jodrell Bank.
Sir Bernard Lovell explains to Patrick Moore the great difficulties he faced building the large radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. When it was finished in 1957, the telescope, now called the Lovell Telescope, was the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world.
Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev beats America into orbit.
Chief Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev and his team built and launched the first Earth satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. This achievement is widely recognised as the start of the race between the United States and the USSR to dominate space.
Sputnik 1 (//; Russian: Спутник-1 [ˈsputnʲɪk] "Satellite-1", or ПС-1 ["PS-1", i.e., Russian: Простейший Спутник-1 "Elementary Satellite 1"]) was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments.
Sputnik itself provided scientists with valuable information, even though it wasn't equipped with sensors, by tracking and studying the satellite from Earth. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave information about the ionosphere.
Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 mph; 8,100 m/s), taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz, which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957.Sputnik 1 burned up on 4 January 1958, as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 70 million km (43.5 million miles) and spending three months in orbit.