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Sputnik 1

A replica of Sputnik 1
Mission type Technology
Operator OKB-1
Harvard designation 1957 Alpha 2
SATCAT № 00002
Mission duration 92 days[1]
Orbits completed 1440 [1]
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer OKB-1
Soviet Ministry of Radiotechnical Industry
Launch mass 83.60 kilograms (184.3 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 4 October 1957, 19:28:34 (1957-10-04T19:28:34Z) UTC
Rocket Sputnik 8K71PS
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Last contact Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter.
Decay date 4 January 1958
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Semi-major axis 6,955.2 kilometres (4,321.8 mi)
Eccentricity 0.05200999975204468
Perigee 215.0 kilometres (133.6 mi)
Apogee 939.0 kilometres (583.5 mi)
Inclination 65.10 degrees
Period 96.19999694824219 minutes
Epoch 1956
Listeners were both thrilled and terrified to hear Sputnik's steady beep.[2]

Sputnik 1 (Russian: "Спу́тник-1" Russian pronunciation: , "Satellite-1", ПС-1 (PS-1, i.e. "Простейший Спутник-1", or Elementary Satellite-1))[3] was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. The 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.[4][5]

Sputnik itself provided scientists with valuable information. 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 at 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[6] which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world.[7] The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957.[8] 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 3 months in orbit.[9]


  • Before the launch 1
    • Satellite construction project 1.1
    • Launch vehicle preparation and launch site selection 1.2
    • Observation complex 1.3
  • Design 2
  • Launch and mission 3
  • Reaction 4
    • Propaganda 4.1
  • Replicas 5
  • Impact 6
  • Backup units 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • Bibliography 10
  • External links 11
    • Authentic recordings of the signal 11.1
    • History 11.2
    • Primary sources 11.3
    • Miscellaneous 11.4

Before the launch

Satellite construction project

The history of the Sputnik 1 project dates back to 17 December 1954, when Sergei Korolev addressed Dimitri Ustinov, the Minister of Defence Industries, proposing the development of an artificial satellite, forwarding a report by Mikhail Tikhonravov with an overview of similar projects abroad.[10] Tikhonravov emphasized that the launch of an orbital satellite was an inevitable stage in the development of rocket technology.[11]

On 29 July 1955, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced through his press secretary that the United States would launch an artificial satellite during the International Geophysical Year (IGY).[12] A week later, on 8 August, the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union approved the proposal to create an artificial satellite.[13] On 30 August Vasily Ryabikov – the head of the State Commission on R-7 rocket test launches – held a meeting where Korolev presented calculation data for a spaceflight trajectory to the Moon. They decided to develop a three-stage version of the R-7 rocket for satellite launches.[14]

This metal arming key is the last remaining piece of the first Sputnik satellite. It prevented contact between the batteries and the transmitter prior to launch. Currently on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

On 30 January 1956 the Council of Ministers approved practical work on an artificial Earth-orbiting satellite. This satellite, named "Object D", was planned to be completed in 1957–58; it would have a mass of 1,000 to 1,400 kg (2,200 to 3,100 lb) and would carry 200 to 300 kg (440 to 660 lb) of scientific instruments.[15] The first test launch of "Object D" was scheduled for 1957.[11] Work on the satellite was to be divided between institutions as follows:[16]

  • the USSR Academy of Sciences was responsible for the general scientific leadership and research instruments supply
  • the Ministry of Defense Industry and its primary design bureau OKB-1 were assigned the task of building the satellite
  • the Ministry of Radiotechnical Industry would develop the control system, radio/technical instruments and the telemetry system
  • the Ministry of Ship Building Industry would develop gyroscope devices
  • the Ministry of Machine Building would develop ground launching, refueling and transportation means
  • the Ministry of Defense was responsible for conducting launches

Under the direction of main engineer Dimitrij Sergeevich Mordasov, preliminary design work was completed by July 1956 and the scientific tasks to be carried out by the satellite were defined. It included measuring the density of the atmosphere, its ion composition, the solar wind, magnetic fields, and cosmic rays. This data would be valuable in the creation of future artificial satellites. A system of ground stations was to be developed to collect data transmitted by the satellite, observe the satellite's orbit, and transmit commands to the satellite. Because of the limited time frame, observations were planned for only 7 to 10 days and orbit calculations were not expected to be extremely accurate.[17]

By the end of 1956 it became clear that the complexity of the ambitious design meant that 'Object D' could not be launched in time because of difficulties creating scientific instruments and the low specific impulse produced by the completed R-7 engines (304 sec instead of the planned 309 to 310 sec). Consequently the government re-scheduled the launch for April 1958.[11] Object D would later fly as Sputnik 3.

Fearing the U.S. would launch a satellite before the USSR, OKB-1 suggested the creation and launch of a satellite in April–May 1957, before the IGY began in July 1957. The new satellite would be simple, light (100 kg or 220 lb), and easy to construct, forgoing the complex, heavy scientific equipment in favour of a simple radio transmitter. On 15 February 1957 the Council of Ministers of the USSR approved this simple satellite, designated 'Object PS'.[18] This version allowed the satellite to be tracked visually by Earth-based observers while in orbit, and transmit tracking signals to ground-based receiving stations.[18] The launch of two satellites, PS-1 and PS-2, with two R-7 rockets (8K71) was approved, but only after successful testing of the R-7 launch vehicle.[18]

Launch vehicle preparation and launch site selection

30k USSR postage stamp depicting Sputnik 1

The R-7 Semyorka was initially designed as an ICBM by OKB-1. The decision to build it was made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on 20 May 1954.[19] The R-7 was also known by its GRAU (later GURVO) designation 8K71.[20] At the time, the R-7 was known to western sources as the T-3 or M-104,[21] and Type A.[22] A special reconnaissance commission selected Tyuratam for the construction of a rocket proving ground (the 5th Tyuratam range, usually referred to as "NIIP-5", or "GIK-5" in the post-Soviet time). The selection was approved on 12 February 1955 by the Council of Ministers of the USSR, but the site would not be completed until 1958.[23] Actual work on the construction of the site began on 20 July by military building units. On 14 June 1956 Sergei Korolev decided to adapt the R-7 rocket to the 'Object D',[24] that would later be replaced by the much lighter 'Object PS'.

The first launch of an R-7 rocket (8K71 No.5L) occurred on 15 May 1957. The flight was controlled until the 98th second, but a fire in a strap-on booster led to an unintended crash 400 km from the site.[25] Three attempts to launch the second rocket (8K71 No.6) were made on 10–11 June, but an assembly defect prevented launch.[26] The unsuccessful launch of the third R-7 rocket (8K71 No.7) took place on 12 July.[25] During the flight the rocket experienced an uncontrolled roll about its longitudinal axis and its engines were automatically shut off. The flight lasted 32 seconds, and the R-7 crashed 7 km (4.3 mi) from the site and exploded.[27]

The launch of the fourth rocket (8K71 No.8), on 21 August at 15:25 Moscow Time,[25] was successful. The rocket's core boosted the dummy warhead to the target altitude and velocity, reentered the atmosphere, and broke apart at a height of 10 km (6.2 mi) after traveling 6,000 km. On 27 August TASS in the USSR issued a statement on the successful launch of a long-distance multistage ICBM. The launch of the fifth R-7 rocket (8K71 No.9), on 7 September[25] was also successful, but the dummy was also destroyed on atmospheric reentry,[27] and hence needed a redesign to completely fulfill its military purpose. The rocket, however, was deemed suitable for satellite launches, and Korolev was able to convince the State Commission to allow the use of the next R-7 to launch PS-1,[28] allowing the delay in the rocket's military exploitation to launch the PS-1 and PS-2 satellites.[29][30]

On 22 September a modified R-7 rocket, named Sputnik and indexed as 8K71PS,[31] arrived at the proving ground and preparations for the launch of PS-1 began.[32] Compared to the military R-7 test vehicles, the mass of 8K71PS was reduced from 280 tonnes to 272 tonnes; its length with PS-1 was 29.167 metres (95 ft 8.3 in) and the thrust at lift off was 3.90 MN (880,000 lbf).[33]

Observation complex

The measurement complex at the proving ground for monitoring the launch vehicle from its launch was completed prior to the first R-7 rocket test launches in December 1956. It consisted of six static stations: IP-1 through IP-6, with IP-1 situated at a distance of 1 km (0.62 mi) from the launch pad.[29] The main monitoring devices of these stations were telemetry and trajectory measurement stations, "Tral," developed by OKB MEI. They received and monitored data from the "Tral" system transponders mounted on the R-7 rocket's core stage,[34] which provided telemetric data about Sputnik 1's launch vehicle. The data was useful even after the satellite's separation from the second stage of the rocket; Sputnik 1's location was calculated from the data on the second stage's location (which followed Sputnik 1 at a known distance) using nomograms developed by P.E. Elyasberg.[35]

An additional observation complex, established to track the satellite after its separation from the rocket, was completed by a group led by Colonel Yu.A.Mozzhorin in accordance with the General Staff directive of 8 May 1957. It was called the Command-Measurement Complex and consisted of the coordination center in NII-4 by the Ministry of Defence of the USSR (at Bolshevo) and seven ground tracking stations, situated along the line of the satellite's ground track. They were: NIP-1 (at Tyuratam station, Kazakh SSR, situated not far from IP-1), NIP-2 (at Makat station, Guryev Oblast), NIP-3 (at Sary-Shagan station, Dzhezkazgan Oblast), NIP-4 (at Yeniseysk), NIP-5 (at village Iskup, Krasnoyarsk Krai), NIP-6 (at Yelizovo) and NIP-7 (at Klyuchi).[29][36] The complex had a communication channel with the launch pad. Stations were equipped with radar, optical instruments, and communications systems. PS-1 was not designed to be controlled, it could only be observed. Data from stations were transmitted by telegraphs into NII-4 where ballistics specialists calculated orbital parameters. The complex became an early prototype of the Soviet Mission Control Center.[37]

In the West, the satellite was tracked by amateur radio operators, and the booster rocket was located and tracked by the Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.[38] The Newbrook Observatory was the first facility in North America to photograph Sputnik 1.[39]


A replica of Sputnik 1 at the U.S. National Air and Space Museum

The chief constructor of Sputnik 1 at OKB-1 was M. S. Khomyakov.[40] The satellite was a 585-millimetre (23.0 in) diameter sphere, assembled from two hemispheres which were hermetically sealed using o-rings and connected using 36 bolts, and had a mass of 83.6 kilograms (184 lb).[41] The hemispheres were 2 mm thick,[42] and were covered with a highly polished 1 mm-thick heat shield[43] made of aluminium-magnesium-titanium AMG6T alloy ("AMG" is an abbreviation for "aluminium-magnesium" and "T" stands for "titanium", the alloy contains 6% of magnesium and 0.2% of titanium[44]). The satellite carried two pairs of antennas designed by the Antenna Laboratory of OKB-1 led by M. V. Krayushkin.[16] Each antenna was made up of two whip-like parts: 2.4 and 2.9 meters (7.9 and 9.5 ft) in length,[45] and had an almost spherical radiation pattern,[46] so that the satellite beeps were transmitted with equal power in all directions, making reception of the transmitted signal independent of the satellite's rotation.

The power supply, with a mass of 51 kg (112 lb),[47] was in the shape of an octagonal nut with the radio transmitter in its hole.[48] It consisted of three silver-zinc batteries, developed at the All-Union Research Institute of Current Sources (VNIIT) under the leadership of N. S. Lidorenko. Two of these batteries powered the radio transmitter and one powered the temperature regulation system.[47] The batteries had an expected lifetime of two weeks, and operated for 22 days. The power supply was turned on automatically at the moment of the satellite's separation from the second stage of the rocket.[49]

The satellite had a one-watt, 3.5 kg (7.7 lb)[29] radio transmitting unit inside, developed by V. I. Lappo from NII-885,[49] that worked on two frequencies, 20.005 and 40.002 MHz. Signals on the first frequency were transmitted in 0.3 sec pulses (under normal temperature and pressure conditions on-board), with pauses of the same duration filled by pulses on the second frequency.[50] Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere. Temperature and pressure were encoded in the duration of radio beeps. A temperature regulation system contained a fan, a dual thermal switch, and a control thermal switch.[49] If the temperature inside the satellite exceeded 36 °C (97 °F) the fan was turned on and when it fell below 20 °C (68 °F) the fan was turned off by the dual thermal switch.[46] If the temperature exceeded 50 °C (122 °F) or fell below 0 °C (32 °F), another control thermal switch was activated, changing the duration of the radio signal pulses.[49] Sputnik 1 was filled with dry nitrogen, pressurized to 1.3 atm.[51] The satellite had a barometric switch, activated if the pressure inside the satellite fell below 130 kPa, which would have indicated failure of the pressure vessel or puncture by a meteor, and would have changed the duration of radio signal impulse.[51]

While attached to the rocket, Sputnik 1 was protected by a cone-shaped payload fairing, with a height of 80 cm (31.5 in).[29] The fairing separated from both Sputnik 1 and the spent R-7 second stage at the same time as the satellite was ejected.[49] Tests of the satellite were conducted at OKB-1 under the leadership of O. G. Ivanovsky.[40]

Launch and mission

Soviet 40 kopeks stamp, showing satellite's orbit
The control system of the Sputnik rocket was adjusted to an intended orbit of 223 km (139 mi) by 1,450 km (900 mi), with an orbital period of 101.5 min.[52] The trajectory was calculated earlier by
  • A film clip "New Moon. Reds Launch First Space Satellite, 1957/10/07 (1957)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive []
  • Timeline of Space Exploration and Sputnik diagram by Newsweek
  • – An interview with Sir Arthur C. Clarke on Sputnik
  • NASA's 50th Anniversary of the Space Age & Sputnik – Interactive Media
  • Sputnik Program Page by NASA's Solar System Exploration
  • Sputnik Original reports from The Times]
  • 1958 Video Newsreel of Russian Exhibition of Sputnik 1
  • 50th anniversary of the Earth's first artificial satellite launch. RIA Novosti Video
  • NASA on Sputnik 1
  • Sputnik 1A joint Russian project of Ground microprocessing information systems SRC "PLANETA" and Space Monitoring Information Support laboratory (IKI RAN) dedicated to the 40th anniversary of
  • Top Ten Sputniks


  • Soviet documents
  • Newspaper accounts on ham radio operators
  • Documents related to Sputnik and the Space Race, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library

Primary sources

  • Sputnik 1 Diary
Other sites of interest
  • by Don Mitchell
  • by Asif Siddiqi
  • by Anatoly Zak


  • NASA false Sputnik recording

A NASA history website on Sputnik contains this commonly copied recording, which is some pulse-duration-modulated signal of an unknown spacecraft :

  • World's first satellite and the international community's response

This Russian page contains signals which are probably the faster pulsations from Sputnik-2:

  • Recording from Washington DC
  • Recording from German Ham Operator
  • Recording from Czechoslovakia

Authentic recordings of the signal

External links

  • Bilstein, Roger E., "Stages to Saturn a Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn launch Vehicles," Washington D.C., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA SP 4206
  • Brezezinski, Matthew B.. Red Moon Rising, New York, Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 978-0-8050-8147-3
  • Burrows, William E., "By Any Means Necessary," Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, ISBN 0-374-11747-0.
  • Cox, Donald & Stoiko, Michael, "Spacepower what it means to you," Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The John C. Winston Company
  • Dickson, Paul, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, Walker & Company (26 June 2007), ISBN 978-0-8027-1365-0
  • Divine, Robert A. The Sputnik Challenge, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-505008-8
  • Dudney, Robert S. (October 2007). "When Sputnik Shocked the World" (pdf). Air Force Magazine (AFA) 90 (10): 2–43. Retrieved 2 October 2007. 
  • Gray, Mike, "Angle of Attack. Harrison Storms and the race to the Moon," New York, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-01892-X
  • Green, Constance McLaughlin, and Lomax, Milton.. Vanguard a History, Washington D.C., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA SP-4202.
  • Harford, James.. Korolev, New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-14853-9.
  • Isachenkov, Vladimir (30 September 2007). "Sputnik at 50: An improvised triumph". USAToday. Associated Press. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  • Lashmar, Paul, Spy Flights of the Cold War, Annapolis, Maryland, United States Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1557508372.
  • Lovell, Sir Bernard, "The Story of Jodrell Bank," New York, Harper & Row, Publishers, Library of Congress Card No. 68-17043
  • McDougall, Walter A. ... the Heavens and the Earth,New York. Basic Books, Publishers, ISBN 0-465-02887-X.
  • Mieczkowski, Yanek. Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige (Cornell University Press; 2013); the American response
  • Peebles, Curtis. The Corona Project, Annapolis, Maryland. The United States Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-55750-688-4.
  • Peebles, Curtis. The Moby Dick Project, Washington, The Smithsonian Institution Press, ISBN 1-56098-025-7.
  • Peebles, Curtis. Shadow Flight, Novato, California. The Presideo Press, Inc., ISBN 0-89141-700-1.
  • Prados, John. The Soviet Estimate, New York, The Dial Press, ISBN 0-385-27211-1.
  • Shepard, Alan & Slayton, Deke, "Moon Shot," Atlanta, Georgia, Turner Publishing, Inc., ISBN 1-57036-167-3,
  • Siddiqi, Asif A., Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Gainesville, FL. The University of Florida Press, ISBN 0-8130-2627-X.
  • Swenson, L, Jr, Grimwood, J. M. Alexander, C.C. This New Ocean, A History of Project Mercury, Washington D.C.. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Library of Congress Card No. 66-62424
  • Zaloga, Stephen J.. The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword, Washington. The Smithsonian Institution Press, ISBN 1-58834-007-4.


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See also

  • A Sputnik 1 backup unit is on display at the personal library of Jay Walker, an Internet entrepreneur.[98]
  • In 2003 a back-up unit of Sputnik 1 called "model PS-1" failed to sell on eBay.[99] It was offered while still on display in a science institute near Kiev. It is estimated that between four and twenty models were made for testing and as replicas.
  • What is thought to be a backup of Sputnik 1 now hangs at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The craft was manufactured by the Soviet Academy of Sciences and has fittings for the various components, suggesting that it was more than just a model.[100]

Backup units

The launch of Sputnik 1 inspired U.S. writer Herb Caen to coin the term "beatnik" in an article about the Beat Generation in the San Francisco Chronicle on 2 April 1958.[97]

Sputnik also inspired a generation of engineers and scientists. Harrison Storms, the North American designer who was responsible for the X-15 rocket plane, and went on to head the effort to design the Apollo Command/Service Module and Saturn V launch vehicle's second stage was moved by the launch of Sputnik to think of space as being the next step for America.[95] Astronauts Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space, and Deke Slayton later wrote of how the sight of Sputnik I passing overhead inspired them to their new careers.[96] Homer Hickam's memoir Rocket Boys and the movie October Sky tell the story of how a coal miner's son, inspired by Sputnik, started building rockets in the mining town where he lived.

One irony of the "Sputnik" event was the initially low-key response of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party newspaper Pravda only printed a few paragraphs about 'Sputnik 1' on 4 October.[94] In the days following the world's startled response, the Soviets started celebrating their great accomplishment.

One consequence of the Sputnik shock was the perception of a "missile gap."[93] This was to become a dominant issue in the 1960 Presidential campaign.

Initially U.S. President Eisenhower was not surprised by Sputnik. He had been forewarned of the R-7s capabilities by information derived from U2 spy plane overflight photos as well as signals and telemetry intercepts.[80][81] The Eisenhower administration's first response was low-key and almost dismissive.[82] Eisenhower was even pleased that the USSR, not the USA, would be the first to test the waters of the still-uncertain legal status of orbital satellite overflights.[83] Eisenhower had suffered the Soviet protests and shoot-downs of Project Genetrix (Moby Dick) balloons[84] and was concerned about the probability of a U-2 being shot down.[85] In order to set a precedent for "freedom of space" before the launch of America's secret WS-117L Spy Satellites[86] the USA had launched Project Vanguard as its own "civilian" satellite entry for the International Geophysical Year.[87] Eisenhower greatly underestimated the reaction of the American public, which was shocked by the launch of Sputnik 1 and by the televised failure of the Vanguard Test Vehicle 3 launch attempt. The sense of fear was inflamed by Democratic politicians and professional cold warriors which portrayed the United States as woefully behind.[88] One of the many books which suddenly appeared for the lay-audience noted 7 points of "impact" upon the nation. Those points of impact were, Western Leadership, Western Strategy and Tactics, Missile Production, Applied Research, Basic Research, Education, and Democratic Culture.[21] The USA soon had a number of successful satellites, including Explorer 1, Project SCORE, and Courier 1B. However, public reaction to the Sputnik crisis led to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA in 1972),[89] NASA,[90] and an increase in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education. Not only did the launch of Sputnik spur America to action in the space race, it also led directly to the creation of N.A.S.A. through the space act bill. Sputnik also contributed directly to advancement in science and technology. This came about when President Eisenhower enacted a bill called the National Defense Education Act. This bill encouraged students to go to college and study math and science. The students' tuition fees would be paid for. This led to a new emphasis on science and technology in American schools. Sputnik also created building blocks which probably led to the general establishment of the way science is conducted in the United States today.[91] After the launch of Sputnik a poll conducted and published by the University of Michigan, showed that 26% of Americans surveyed thought that Russian sciences and engineering were superior to that of the United States of America. Although a year later that had dropped to 10% as the U.S. were able to launch their own satellites into space.[92]

On Friday, October 4, 1957, the Soviets had orbited the world's first artificial satellite. Anyone who doubted its existence could walk into the backyard just after sunset and see it.
—Mike Gray, "Angle of Attack"[79]


A full scale model of Sputnik 1 is on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

Three one-third scale student-built replicas of Sputnik 1 were deployed from the Mir space station between 1997 and 1999. The first, named Sputnik 40 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, was deployed in November 1997.[65] Sputnik 41 was launched a year later, and Sputnik 99 was deployed in February 1999. A fourth replica was launched but never deployed, and was destroyed when Mir was deorbited.[78]

A model of Sputnik 1 was given to the United Nations and now decorates the Entry Hall of its Headquarters in New York City. Other replicas are on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center [77] in Hutchinson, KS; at the Science Museum, London; at the World Museum in Liverpool; and hanging in the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas.


The launch of Sputnik surprised the American public and shattered the perception of the United States as the technological superpower and the Soviet Union as a backward country.[72] Privately, however, the CIA and President Dwight D. Eisenhower were aware of progress being made by the Soviets on Sputnik from secret spy plane imagery.[73] Together with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Army Ballistic Missile Agency built Explorer 1, and launched it on January 31, 1958. Before work was completed, however, the Soviet Union launched a second satellite, Sputnik 2, on November 3, 1957. Meanwhile, the televised failure of Vanguard TV3 on December 6, 1957 deepened American dismay over the country's position in the Space Race. The Americans took a more aggressive stance in the emerging space race,[74] resulting in an emphasis on science and technological research and reforms in many areas from the military to education systems.[75] The federal government began investing in science, engineering and mathematics at all levels of education.[72][76] An advanced research group was assembled for military purposes.[72] These research groups developed weapons such as ICBMs and missile defense systems, as well as spy satellites for the US.[72]

Sputnik 1 was not immediately used by Soviet propaganda. The Soviets had kept quiet about their earlier accomplishments in rocketry, fearing that it would lead to secrets being revealed and failures being exploited by the West.[70] When the Soviets began using Sputnik in their propaganda, they emphasized pride in the achievement of Soviet technology, arguing that it demonstrated the Soviets' superiority over the West. People were encouraged to listen to Sputnik's signals on the radio[70] and to look out for Sputnik in the night sky. While Sputnik itself had been highly polished, its small size made it barely visible to the naked eye. What most watchers actually saw was the much more visible 26 meter core stage of the R-7.[70] Shortly after the launch of PS-1, Krushchev pressed Korolev to launch another satellite in time for the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution on 7 November 1957.[71]


In Britain the media and population initially reacted with a mixture of fear for the future, but also amazement about humankind's progress. Many newspapers and magazines heralded the arrival of the space age. However, when the Soviet Union launched a second craft containing the dog Laika, the media narrative returned to one of anti-communism and many people sent protests to the Russian embassy and the RSPCA.[69]

[67][66] (ARPA or DARPA) in February 1958 to regain a technological lead.Advanced Research Projects Agency's launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the USSRThe

At first the Soviet Union agreed to use equipment "compatible" with that of the United States, but later announced the lower frequencies.[61] The White House declined to comment on military aspects of the launch, but said "it did not come as a surprise."[63] On 5 October the Naval Research Laboratory announced it had recorded four crossings of Sputnik-1 over the United States.[61] The USAF Cambridge Research Center collaborated with Bendix-Friez, Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and MIT, to obtain a motion picture of the rocket body of Sputnik 1 crossing the pre-dawn sky of Baltimore, broadcast on 12 October by WBZ-TV in Boston.[64] U.S. President Eisenhower obtained photographs of the Soviet facilities from Lockheed U-2 flights conducted since 1956.[65]

News reports at the time pointed out that "anyone possessing a short wave receiver can hear the new Russian earth satellite as it hurtles over his area of the globe". Directions, provided by the American Radio Relay League were to "Tune in 20 megacycles sharply, by the time signals, given on that frequency. Then tune to slightly higher frequencies. The 'beep, beep' sound of the satellite can be heard each time it rounds the globe,"[62] The first recording of Sputnik 1's signal was made by RCA engineers near Riverhead, Long Island. They then drove the tape recording into Manhattan for broadcast to the public over NBC radio. However, as Sputnik rose higher over the East Coast, its signal was picked up by ham station W2AEE, the ham radio station of Columbia University. Students working in the university's FM station, WKCR, made a tape of this, and were the first to rebroadcast the Sputnik 1 signal to the American public (or such of it as could be received by the FM station).

[61].magnetic tape The USSR asked radio amateurs and commercial stations to record the sound of the satellite on [61] to sight the satellite through binoculars or telescopes as it passed overhead.Project MoonwatchTeams of visual observers at 150 stations in the United States and other countries were alerted during the night to watch for the Soviet sphere at dawn and during the evening twilight. They had been organized in
If somebody tells me that he has the rockets to shoot — which we know from other sources, anyway — and tells me what he will shoot, how he will shoot it, and in general says virtually everything except for the precise date — well, what should I feel like if I'm surprised when the man shoots?"[60]
wrote in 1958: Willy LeyThe Soviets provided details of Sputnik before the launch but few outside the Soviet Union noticed. After reviewing information publicly available before the launch,
Our movies and television programs in the fifties were full of the idea of going into space. What came as a surprise was that it was the Soviet Union that launched the first satellite. It is hard to recall the atmosphere of the time.
John Logsdon[59]
Further information: Sputnik crisis


The core stage of the R-7 remained in orbit for two months until 2 December 1957, while Sputnik 1 orbited until 4 January 1958, having completed 1,440 orbits of the Earth.[1]

On the first orbit the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) transmitted: "As result of great, intense work of scientific institutes and design bureaus the first artificial Earth satellite has been built".[58] The R-7 core stage, with a mass of 7.5 tonnes and a length of 26 meters, also reached Earth orbit and was visible from the ground at night as a first magnitude object following the satellite. Deployable reflective panels were placed on the booster in order to increase its visibility for tracking.[57] The satellite itself, a small, highly polished sphere, was barely visible at sixth magnitude, and thus more difficult to follow optically. A third object, the payload fairing, also achieved orbit.

The designers, engineers and technicians who developed the rocket and satellite watched the launch from the range.[56] After the launch they drove to the mobile radio station to listen for signals from the satellite.[56] They waited about 90 minutes to ensure that the satellite had made one orbit and was transmitting, before Korolyov called Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.[57]

19.9 seconds after engine cut-off, PS-1 separated from the second stage[1] and the satellite's transmitter was activated. These signals were detected at the IP-1 station by Junior Engineer-Lieutenant V.G. Borisov, where reception of Sputnik's "beep-beep-beep" tones confirmed the satellite's successful deployment. Reception lasted for two minutes, until PS-1 fell below the horizon.[29][55] The Tral telemetry system on the R-7 core stage continued to transmit and was detected on its second orbit.[1]

The Sputnik rocket was launched on 4 October 1957 at 19:28:34 UTC (5 October at the launch site[1]) from Site No.1 at NIIP-5.[54] Telemetry indicated the side boosters separated 116 seconds into the flight and the core-stage engine shut down 295.4 seconds into the flight.[52] At shut down, the 7.5 tonne core stage with PS-1 attached had attained an altitude of 223 km (139 mi) above sea level, a velocity of 7,780 m/s (25,500 ft/s) and velocity vector inclination to the local horizon of 0 degrees 24 minutes. This resulted in an initial orbit of 223 kilometres (139 mi) by 950 kilometres (590 mi), with an apogee approximately 500 kilometres (310 mi) lower than intended, and an inclination of 65.1 degrees and a period of 96.2 minutes.[52]

Artist's impression of Sputnik 1 in orbit
[29].mainframe computer' USSR Academy of Sciences using the [53]
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