Saturday October 5, 1957

Russians Launch Sputnik - Space Race Begins

Friday the Soviet Union launched their Sputnik I satellite into orbit around the globe.

The world's first artificial satellite is about the size of a basketball, weighs around 183 pounds, and takes about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. Although the Sputnik launch is a single event, it has initiated the space age and a space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The Sputnik launch has changed everything. As a technical achievement, Sputnik has caught the world's attention and the

 American public off-guard. In addition, the public now fears the Soviets' ability to launch satellites also translates into the capability to launch ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons from Europe to the U.S. 

A White House source said “The Soviets plan to launch Sputnik II in early November. Sputnik II will carry a much heavier payload, including a dog named Laika.”

Immediately after the Sputnik I launch, the U.S. Defense Department responded to the political furor by approving funding for the U.S. satellite project, named Explorer I.

If the Russians are successful with the launch of Sputnik II we will fall behind in the space race.

 Defense Department officials are already discussing the prospect of launching a much larger payload than Sputnik II. The project, likely to be named Explorer II would, according to a source who declined to be identified, attempt to launch several Holstein cows into space to orbit the earth before landing in the Atlantic Ocean in what has been called a “splash down.” According to the source this will become known as "THE HERD SHOT 'ROUND THE WORLD."

 

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