Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Week in History: 10/4/2010

Sputnik is Launched

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union inaugurated the “Space Age” when it launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite to study the Earth and the solar system. In January 1958, Sputnik’s orbit deteriorated and the aircraft burned in the atmosphere.

The Soviet satellite technology was, at the time, better that the U.S.’. Sputnik, for example, was about 10 times the size of he first planned U.S. satellite, Explorer, which launched the following year. Sputnik’s launch caught the U.S. government off guard and heralded the beginning of the “space race,” in which America and the Soviet Union competed for the best technological achievements. The Soviets remained ahead of the race with the first man and woman in space, the first three men in space, and the first space walk, among other achievements. It wasn’t until July 1969, when two Apollo 11 astronauts successfully landed on the surface on the moon, that the U.S. caught up with the Soviets.

To learn more about Sputnik and the “space race,” please visit This Day in History at

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