This Day in History: October 4th, 1957 -- Sputnik 1 Satellite Launched


On October 4, 1957 the space age began. The Soviet Union launched "Sputnik", the very first man-made satellite, into earth's orbit. Sputnik, only about 23 inches wide, weighed some 184 pounds.

It was designed to orbit the Earth at about 18 thousand miles per hour at an altitude of 560 miles.

Scientists around the world could hear sputnik transmitting electronic signaling back to earth and speculated on the information contained in those beeps.

Years later, the people who launched sputnik confessed the beeps were used simply to help track the satellite. Sputnik's launch triggered the so-called "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union.

That race didn't let up until twelve years later, when the U.S. successfully sent astronauts to the moon in 1969.

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