Sputnik – The Space Pioneer
Posted by shadmia on October 4, 2007
On Oct. 4, 1957 the Soviets launched the world’s first satellite – Sputnik I. That was 50 years ago and it changed our world forever. It was the beginning of the Space Age. It would lead not only to exploration of space but to a new way of life on Earth. Today satellites are an indispensable part of our world. From weather forecasting to entertainment, from commerce to surveillance we simply can’t do without our eyes in the sky.
The launching of Sputnik was due to the tireless work of two Russian scientists Sergei Korolev, called the father of the Soviet space program and Soviet rocket designer Boris Chertok. They were working on missile delivery systems for nuclear weapons and actually developed the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile in May 1957. When the West failed to recognize the Soviet achievement, Korolev suggested sending a satellite into space. Within weeks, Korolev designed a basketball-sized sphere. It contained two powerful radio transmitters designed to emit beeps over the course of three weeks. Its shape was meant to capture people’s imagination by symbolizing a celestial body. On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik I blasted off into Earth’s orbit. Sputnik’s beeps could be heard on radios around the world. But Chertok says that the team members were so focused on the military aspects of their work, they failed to recognize its historical significance.
“We prepared the launch without any great expectations. If it were to succeed, [then] great. If not, no big deal,” Chertok says. “Because our main task was to get back to building a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.”
Chertok says the world’s reaction to Sputnik caught even the Soviet propaganda machine by surprise.
“As for Sputnik’s creators, it took us four or five days to realize that from then on, the history of civilization could be divided into before the launch and after,” he says.
The launch of Sputnik was a complete surprise to the US and shocked the Americans into action. Within three months they launched the Explorer I and the Space Race had begun.
|Length:||285 cm (112 in), antennae|
|Diameter:||58 cm (23 in)|
|Weight:||83.6 kg (184 lb)|