Date of Milestone: October 4, 1957
Spacecraft: Sputnik 1
Mission Operated by: USSR
Spacecraft Location: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent into orbit Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history. Then a month later, an even larger and heavier satellite, Sputnik 2, carried the dog Laika into orbit.
Sputnik's launch came as an unnerving surprise to the United States. The space age had dawned and America's Cold War rival suddenly appeared technologically superior.
The first U.S. effort to launch a satellite failed when its Vanguard rocket exploded during lift-off. Finally on January 31, 1958, a Jupiter-C rocket sent Explorer 1 into orbit. The space race was underway.
Design Features (in comparison to Explorer 1):
Sputnik 1(Full-size replica)
Length: 285 cm (112 in), antennae
Diameter: 58 cm (23 in)
Weight: 83.6 kg (184 lb)
Launch Vehicle: R-7
Lent by the Science in Russia Exhibition of National Achievement