October 4, 1957 – the Russian’s launch Sputnik
The modern space age was birthed on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet’s launched the first man-made object to orbit the Earth, Sputnik.
“Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957. The satellite was 58 cm (about 23 in) in diameter and weighed approximately 83.6 kg (about 183 lb). Each of its elliptical orbits around the Earth took about 96 minutes. Monitoring of the satellite was done by Amateur radio operators. The first long-range flight of the R-7 booster used to launch it had occurred on August 21 and was described in Aviation Week. Sputnik 1 was not visible from Earth but the casing of the R-7 booster, traveling behind it, was.”
“Both countries [Russia and the United States] knew that preeminence in space was a condition of their national security. That conviction gave both countries a powerful incentive to strive and compete. The Soviets accomplished many important firsts, and this gave us a great incentive to try harder.
The space program also accomplished another vital function in that it kept us out of a hot war. It gave us a way to compete technologically, compete as a matter of national will. It may have even prevented World War III, with all the conflict and fighting focused on getting to the moon first, instead of annihilating each other. There’s no evidence of that, but as eyewitness to those events, I think that’s what happened.”
– American astronaut Scott Carpenter quoted in Into that Silent Sea (p. 138).
- We Shocked the World – Air & Space Smithsonian
- It All Started with Sputnik – Air & Space Smithsonian
- Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age, Aerospace America