THE RACE BEGINS
the early years of the Space Race, success was marked by headline-making
"firsts": the first satellite, first robotic spacecraft
to the Moon, first man in space, first woman in space, first spacewalk.
To the dismay of the United States, each of these early feats
was achieved by the Soviet Union. These events triggered a drive
to catch up with--and surpass--the Soviets.
Soviet Union stunned the world with the launch of Sputnik ("satellite")
on October 4, 1957. A shiny basketball-size sphere containing radio
transmitters, Sputnik announced the beginning of the Space Age.
just weeks after the Soviets' successful test launch of the first
intercontinental ballistic missile, Sputnik signaled the U.S.S.R.'s
capability in rocketry and their potential to dominate space.
Soviet-made full-size replica of Sputnik is displayed overhead in
the Milestones of
Flight hall in the center of the Museum.
metal arming key is the last remaining piece of the first artificial
satellite to orbit the Earth. It prevented contact between the batteries
and transmitters until Sputnik was prepared for launch. A pin mounted
on the launch vehicle served the same purpose until the satellite
separated from the launcher in orbit. Only then did Sputnik begin
to transmit the distinctive "beep, beep, beep" heard round
Experimental Design Bureau, OKB-1
Arthur M. Dula