A Brief History of Sputnik I

Sputnik I was the first man made satellite launched into orbit.

Sputnik I was the first man made satellite to be successfully launched into orbit. Sputnik I was launched on October 4th of 1957 on a mission to study the atmosphere of the Earth. It was designed by V.P. Glushko, and Sergey P Korokov. It is believed to have burned up upon reentry on January 4th of the following year, although there is some controversy over this, as some believe that parts of it have been found scattered across California.

Sputnik was a major milestone in space travel technology development. It was the first satellite of the Soviet’s very successful Sputnik program, which were all important developments in artificial satellite technology. It proved the plausibility of sending man made objects into space, and perhaps even people one day, as several animals such as dogs, rats, and plants were put into orbit and survived completely. There was also a worry about military power. Russia had made a claim only weeks earlier that they had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The launching of Sputnik made the claims seem more credible.

Although small (Sputnik was a sphere about twenty-three inches in diameter), Sputnik was able to provide some valuable information about the Earth’s outer atmosphere. Radio communication took place via Sputnik’s two transmitters, which encoded results of tests in a series of beeps which could be read by scientists on Earth. Sputnik orbited Earth approximately once every ninety-six minutes.

At the time of the launch, Americans and Soviets were fierce rivals, with each country trying to outdo the other in science, art, military, and several other matters. The announcement and launch of Sputnik 1 was a huge blow to the Americans, who responded with promises of sending satellites into space themselves. Communism gained supporters because of the success. Sputnik’s launch also played a huge role in the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA), and the passing of the Space Act, which created NASA. Americans were able to launch their own satellite about four months after the launch of Sputnik 1, when Explorer 1 was put into orbit on January 28, 1958.

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