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Sputnik

Sputnik

Sputnik is the name given to a series of scientific research satellites launched by the Soviet Union during the period from 1957 to 1961. The satellites ranged in size and capability from the 83.6-kilogram (184.3-pound) Sputnik 1, which served only as a limited radio transmitter, to Sputnik 10, which weighed 4,695 kilograms (10,350 pounds). Together the Sputnik flights ushered in the space age and began the exploration of space by orbital satellites and humans. Sputnik 1 is the most famous in the series.

In August 1957 the Soviet Union conducted a successful test flight of a stage-and-a-half liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile called the R-7. Shortly thereafter Soviet scientists were quoted in the news media inside the Soviet Union saying that they were planning for the launch of an Earth satellite using a newly developed missile. Western observers scoffed at the accounts. In the late summer of 1957 Soviet scientists told a planning session of the International Geophysical Year celebrations that a scientific satellite was going to be placed into orbit, and they released to the press the radio frequency that the satellite would use to transmit signals. Again, the statements were widely dismissed inside the United States as Soviet propaganda.

Late in the evening in the United States (Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, October 4, 1957, Radio Moscow announced that a small satellite designated Sputnik 1 had been launched and had successfully achieved orbital flight around Earth. The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the fact shortly after the reports reached the West.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to reach orbit. Launched from a secret rocket base in the Ural Mountains in Soviet central Asia, it weighed 83.6 kilograms (184.3 pounds), was 0.58 meter (1.9 feet) wide, and carried four whip-style radio antennas that measured 1.5 to 2.9 meters (4.9 to 9.5 feet) in length. Aboard the tiny satellite were instruments capable of measuring the thickness and temperature of the high upper atmosphere and the composition of the ionosphere , and the satellite was also capable of transmitting radio signals. The Soviet news agency Tass released the final radio frequency of the Sputnik and the timetables of its broadcasts, which were widely disseminated by news media worldwide. Sputnik 1 transmitted for twenty-one days after reaching orbit and remained in orbit for ninety-six days. It burned up in the atmosphere on its 1,400th orbit of Earth.

Sputnik 2 was launched into orbit a month later on November 3, 1957. It was a much larger satellite, weighing 508 kilograms (1,120 pounds), and contained the first living creature to be orbited, a dog named Laika. The dog, its capsule, and the upper part of the rocket that launched it remained attached in space for 103 days before burning up after making 2,370 orbits. However, there was only enough oxygen, food, and water to keep Laika alive for a week. There were no provisions to either save the dog or return its capsule to Earth.

Sputniks 3 through 10 were research craft aimed at obtaining design data for the construction of a human-carrying spacecraft. Sputnik 3 was launched on May 15, 1958, Sputnik 4 on May 15, 1960, Sputnik 5 on August 19, 1960, Sputnik 6 on December 1, 1960, Sputnik 7 on February 4, 1961, Sputnik 8 on February 12, 1961, Sputnik 9 on March 9, 1961, and Sputnik 10 on March 25, 1961. Sputnik 10 was a full test version of the Vostok human-carrying space capsule, which carried the first human into space two weeks later on April 12, 1961. Sputniks 5, 6, 9, and 10 carried dogs. Sputnik 10's canine passenger, Zvezdochka, was successfully recovered. Sputnik designations were briefly given to a series of interplanetary probes but these were renamed as part of the Luna series in 1962 and 1963.

see also Animals (volume 3); International Space Station (volume 1 and volume 3); Satellites, Types of (volume 1); Space Shuttle (volume 3).

Frank Sietzen, Jr.

Internet Resources

"Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age." NASA Headquarters. <http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sputnik/>.

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Sputnik

SPUTNIK

On October 4, 1957, Soviet space scientists launched the first manmade Sputnik, or satellite, to orbit the earth. Sputnik had great significance on several counts. It indicated that the USSR was a world leader in science and engineering. It was a great propaganda achievement, enabling the nation's leaders to claim both scientific preeminence and the superiority of the Soviet social system. Sputnik also triggered the space race, as the United States and the USSR committed to an expansive effort to be the first in a series of other space firsts. The USSR followed Sputnik with several other achievements: the first man in space (Yuri Gargarin); the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova); the first two-person and three-person orbital flights; the first space walk; and so on. Sputnik also revealed that the USSR was or would soon be capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Sputnik was important to the Soviet people as well. It demonstrated to them that after years of sacrifice under Stalin the nation was truly on the road to communism based on the achievements of science. Tens of thousands of citizens gathered in the evenings to track Sputnik through the sky, using binoculars or amateur radios to pick up its signal. School children sang odes to Sputnik; poets wrote poems to Sputnik.

Sputnik was only the first Soviet satellite: More than 2,700 others followed into space. While their primary purposes were military, they also served such ends as communication, meteorology, and global prospecting.

See also: gagarin, yuri alexeyevich; space program; united states, relations with

bibliography

McDougall, Walter A. (1985). The Heavens and the Earth. New York: Basic Books.

Paul R. Josephson

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Sputnik

Sputnik World's first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. Weighing 83.5kg (184lb) and with a radio transmitter, Sputnik 1 circled the Earth for several months.

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sputnik

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Sputnik

Sput·nik / ˈspətnik; ˈspoŏt-/ • n. each of a series of Soviet artificial satellites, the first of which (launched on October 4, 1957) was the first satellite to be placed in orbit.

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Sputnik

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sputnik

sputnikaldermanic, botanic, Brahmanic, Britannic, epiphanic, galvanic, Germanic, Hispanic, interoceanic, Koranic, manganic, manic, mechanic, messianic, oceanic, organic, panic, Puranic, Romanic, satanic, shamanic, talismanic, titanic, transoceanic, tympanic, volcanic •anthropogenic, arsenic, autogenic, callisthenic (US calisthenic), carcinogenic, cariogenic, cryogenic, erotogenic, eugenic, fennec, hallucinogenic, Hellenic, hypo-allergenic, photogenic, pyrogenic, radiogenic, schizophrenic, telegenic •polytechnic, pyrotechnic, technic •Chetnik •ethnic, multi-ethnic •Selznick •hygienic, scenic •peacenik • beatnik •actinic, clinic, cynic, Finnic, Jacobinic, rabbinic •picnic, pyknic •hymnic • Iznik • Dominic •anachronic, animatronic, bionic, Brythonic, bubonic, Byronic, canonic, carbonic, catatonic, chalcedonic, chronic, colonic, conic, cyclonic, daemonic, demonic, diatonic, draconic, electronic, embryonic, euphonic, harmonic, hegemonic, histrionic, homophonic, hypersonic, iconic, ionic, ironic, isotonic, laconic, macaronic, Masonic, Miltonic, mnemonic, monotonic, moronic, Napoleonic, philharmonic, phonic, Platonic, Plutonic, polyphonic, quadraphonic, sardonic, saxophonic, siphonic, Slavonic, sonic, stereophonic, subsonic, subtonic, symphonic, tectonic, Teutonic, thermionic, tonic, transonic, ultrasonic •Dubrovnik •Munich, Punic, runic, tunic •refusenik • nudnik • kibbutznik •sputnik • Metternich

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Sputnik

Sputnik ★★ A Dog, a Mouse, and a Sputnik 1961

A Frenchman, amnesiac after a car crash, comes up against Russian scientists, space-bound dogs, and weightlessness. Pleasant and charming family fun though clearly dated. Another fine performance from Auer. Dubbed. 80m/B VHS . FR Noelia Noel, Mischa Auer, Denise Grey; D: Jean Dreville.

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Sputnik

Sputnik

A thin plume of orange rising into the Soviet sky on October 4, 1957, carried aloft humankind's first artificial satellite. A 22-inch, 184-pound, beeping sphere, Sputnik ("Fellow Traveler") marked the beginning of a new chapter in the Cold War, where national prestige would be measured by a race in space. An incredible technological achievement in which all of humanity should have taken pride, the flight of Sputnik 1 and its successors (launched through 1961), was transformed into propaganda by the intense political posturing of the Cold War. For the Soviets, a supposedly technically backward nation, Sputnik instilled national pride; for the United States, watching their own puny Vanguard rockets fizzle and blow up on the launch pad, it enhanced fears of the growing Red Menace. While the satellite fell from orbit in January 1958, the word Sputnik became embedded in the American lexicon—symbolizing a period in time in which the United States first realized space exploration would not be a wholly American enterprise.

The International Geophysical Year, a period of worldwide scientific study spanning from July 1957 to December 1958, prompted efforts toward the development of satellites. President Dwight Eisenhower announced that the United States would orbit a scientific package—Project Vanguard—during the IGY with an anticipated launch date in March 1958. Unlike Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the administration failed to foresee the propaganda coup of placing the first manmade object into space. Sputnik captured headlines around the world. The Soviet News agency TASS boasted how the people of a Socialist society turned dreams into reality.

Noted atomic weapons pioneer Edward Teller professed, "America has lost a battle more important and greater than Pearl Harbor." Following the revelations of the Rosenberg trial, McCarthy hearings, the fall of mainland China to a Red Mao, conflict in Korea and the Revolt in Hungary, Sputnik only added to a sense of fear toward the Red Menace by Americans. Eisenhower sought to alleviate anxiety by reminding the nation that U.S. satellite efforts had not been conducted as a race with other nations. Not only was Vanguard on schedule, it would make serious contributions to science, while Sputnik did little more than transmit its location. Such reassurances did little to calm the citizenry as a blanket of paranoia and insecurity unfurled across the nation.

The role of the United States as the leader in science and technology was being directly challenged. Before Sputnik, there was a widespread belief by Americans that the Soviets were far behind the United States in such areas, relying on espionage rather than originality. Had such smugness bred mental stagnation among Americans? Senator Styles Bridges made this case declaring, "The time has clearly come to be less concerned with the depth on the new broadloom rug or the height of the tail fin of the car and to be more prepared to shed blood, sweat and tears if this country and the free world are to survive."

A second Sputnik launched in less than a month, on November 3, only served to increase the nation's anxiety. Sputnik II weighed an incredible 1,100 pounds and contained a living passenger, a dog named Laika. Clearly, any booster capable of such feats had to possess a massive thrust capacity. This brought to light fears the Soviets were on the verge of perfecting the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and with it nuclear warheads that could rain down upon the United States at any given moment.

Attempting to bolster national pride domestically and the United States image abroad, the White House ordered an acceleration of Vanguard's timetable by four months to attempt a December 1957 launch. With the nation's eyes transfixed on Cape Canaveral, the pencil-like Vanguard rose four feet, dropped, and burst into a pyrotechnic display of brilliant orange and white flames. The Soviet United Nations delegation promptly inquired if the United States desired to enlist rocketry aid under their nation's program of technical assistance to backward nations.

The United States did successfully launch the 31-pound Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. In May, the Soviets launched Sputnik 3, which carried the first space laboratory and used solar energy to power its instruments and transmitters. Sputniks 5 through 10 (four of which carried dogs) were launched 1960-61; these were working models of the spacecraft that carried Yury Alekseyevich Gagarin, the first human passenger, into space in 1961.

Politically, the impact of Sputnik within the United States would be far-reaching. In Washington, critics charged that the president's policy of fiscal responsibility hindered the military's ability to develop ICBMs. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Baines Johnson opened a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee to review the nation's missile and space programs. Eisenhower succumbed to such pressures, increasing defense dollars allocated for missiles. To ensure the peaceful exploration of space, the president called for the creation of a civilian space agency. The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 formally established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Through NASA the nation set forth to combat the Soviets in this new arena of the Cold War called the space race. Because some critics charged the U.S. educational system with not stressing the same fundamentals in science and mathematics as the Soviet system, the National Defense Education Act allocated nearly $1 billion to increase science, mathematics, and foreign languages in elementary, secondary, and collegiate education. American school children needed to be as versed in algebra formulas as they were in baseball batting averages if the United States hoped to surpass Sputnik.

While average Americans found themselves terrified by Sputnik, it became a phenomenon filtering into their everyday lives. Sputnik-watching became a popular evening event. Broadcast in a frequency range that amateur short-wave radio operators could receive, the beeps of Sputnik were as familiar to many families as the "Ballad of Davy Crockett." Toy stores found their shelves lined with Sputnik-inspired toys. David Glover wrote and published the song "Go! Sputnik Boogie." Bartenders concocted Sputnik cocktails—with vodka as a primary component, naturally.

—Dr. Lori C. Walters

Further Reading:

Clowse, Barbara Barksdale. Brainpower for the Cold War: The Sputnik Crisis and National Defense Education Act of 1958. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1981.

Divine, Robert A. The Sputnik Challenge. New York, Oxford University Press, 1993.

Harford, James. Korolev. New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1997.

Killian, James A. Sputnik, Scientists and Eisenhower: A Memoir of the First Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press, 1977.

McDougall, Walter A. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. New York, Basic Books, 1985.

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Sputnik

SPUTNIK.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sputnik, or satellite, after the Russian word for "companion in travel" or "satellite," is the name of the world's first artificial satellite. Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957, awed the world, ushered the space age, and had global political repercussions.

The team of Soviet engineers behind Sputnik included the chief designer, Sergei Korolyov (1907–1966), and the rocket engine specialist Valentin Glushko (1908–1989). Their work on rocketry started in the 1920s, inspired by writings of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935), a visionary of space travel, science fiction author, and amateur inventor, many of whose ideas, including Sputnik, they later managed to realize. After a short honeymoon around 1930 with revolutionary utopian projects, rocket engineers were forced by the hard realities of Soviet history—the looming war threat from Nazi Germany and Stalinist purges—to switch to more useful and down-to-earth designs with short-range missiles and aircraft. Meanwhile, in Germany, the military pursued a much more ambitious project headed by Walter Dornberger (1895–1980) and Wernher von Braun (1912–1977), which by the end of World War II developed a long-range guided missile, A-4 (better known as V-2). Although at that stage of development still a failure as a military weapon, V-2 constituted a great engineering breakthrough and, after the Nazi defeat, inspired subsequent missile projects in the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom.

The best of the "war bounty"—the core of the German missile team (along with most of the surviving V-2s)—was brought to the United States in Operation Paperclip to work on ballistic missiles for the Department of Defense. Having acquired much less, the Soviet military relied mostly on its own engineers, who were first gathered in occupied Germany to study the remaining equipment and documentation and in 1946 moved to a secret research center, NII-88, in Kaliningrad near Moscow. Despite an initial disadvantage, the Soviet team eventually surpassed its German-American rivals in developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Soviet project's chief military motivations were rooted in the asymmetrical strategic balance. American bombers from air bases in Europe and Asia could target cities deep inside the Soviet territory, while the Soviet Union lacked forward bases from which aircraft could reach American shores. Without ICBMs, atomic bombs alone did not provide deterrence against the American nuclear threat. In an attempt to accelerate the development of a delivery system, Soviet officials set their target payload in 1953, before they actually knew the exact mass of the hydrogen bomb, on the basis of a higher estimate of three tons. The assignment led Korolyov's team to leapfrog several incremental stages and develop the powerful two-stage missile R-7 with a seven-thousand-kilometer reach.

Some of the engineers still remembered their youthful dreams about space travel, and Mikhail Tikhonravov's (1901–1974) small group started working on parallel designs for sputniks and manned space missions. In 1956, having impressed the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev with the progress of work on R-7, Korolyov obtained permission to use one of the future missiles for a sputnik launch, on the condition that the all-important military assignment would not be deterred. Information about the first successful test of R-7 in August 1957 and a few predictions of imminent space launches appeared in the Soviet press. Concerned about possible U.S. competitors, Korolyov decided to go ahead with a simple sputnik—an 83.6 kilogram aluminum sphere, 58 centimeters in diameter, with a radio transmitter and four antennas—without waiting for more sophisticated equipment. Launched in the early morning of 4 October from the Baykonur site in Kazakhstan, Sputnik orbited Earth every ninety-eight minutes for the next three months at the altitude of 230 to 940 kilometers. It could be seen from ground with the naked eye, and its beeping signal was heard by radio amateurs around the world. Overnight it became a public sensation and world media fixation.

Only after the fact did authorities in the Soviet Union and the United States understand the full political and symbolic importance of Sputnik. Soviet propaganda quickly started promoting the achievement nationally and internationally as the demonstration of socialism's superiority over capitalism. The U.S. leadership initially tried to downplay Sputnik's importance but also worried about the changed dynamics in Cold War technological competition: in 1945 the Soviets had been viewed as backward, but they had "caught up" in the development of the atomic bomb, then had come even with thermonuclear weapons and had actually surpassed the Americans in missile design. After Sputnik, the idea of space travel captivated the minds of millions and became a chief political priority for existing and aspiring superpowers. The space race began in earnest.

Khrushchev asked Korolyov for further spectacular achievements pegged to two major forthcoming Soviet holidays, 7 November 1957 and 1 May 1958. Sputnik 2 (508 kilograms), carrying the dog Layka, followed on 3 November 1957. The United States, having earlier announced its plans to launch satellites during the International Geophysical Year 1957–1958, tried hastily to catch up, which resulted in a public embarrassment with Vanguard ("Flopnik") on 6 December 1957 and eventual success with Explorer 1 (14 kilograms) on 31 January 1958, lifted up by von Braun's Jupiter missile. The Soviet Sputnik 3, delayed until 15 May 1958 by a launching failure, weighed 1.3 tons and contained an array of scientific instruments. Subsequent Soviet probes in the Sputnik and Luna series brought further achievements, including recovering dogs alive from space, circumnavigating the moon, and for the first time photographing its far side. But the ultimate prize was claimed on 12 April 1961, when a modified three-stage version of R-7 carried the capsule Vostok 1 with the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934–1968), who orbited the earth once and landed safely after the 108-minute flight. In the Soviet Union and also in present-day Russia, the victory of the first manned flight was valued higher than any other human achievement in space, including Sputnik, and celebrated annually as Cosmonautics Day. In the United States, the defeat in the space race led President John F. Kennedy to proclaim sending man to the moon as the nation's major goal. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had been created in 1958 as a response to Sputnik by the National Aeronautics and Space Act to provide a U.S. space program with centralized government management in the way the Soviets were thought to have their work organized. Granted national priority and unrestricted funds, NASA accomplished its main task on 20 July 1969 with the successful moon landing of Apollo 11. Other countries followed with their own satellites: United Kingdom and Canada (1962), Italy (1964), France (1965), Australia (1967), Germany (1969), and Japan and China (1970). A collaborative European Space Research Organization (ESRO) was established in 1964, which launched its first satellite in 1968.

Sputnik's aftereffects spread far beyond space policy, although they remain considerably under-studied. The technological achievement proved its practical usefulness almost immediately, with spy, meteorological, and communications satellites. Whereas manned space missions remained important as propaganda but of little economic benefit, without sputniks, modern global economy and communications would have been unimaginable. Like the atomic bomb twelve years earlier, Sputnik influenced major changes in general science and technology policy. In the United States, overall spending on research and development jumped to a new high, and government funding agencies adopted the originally Marxist approach of not making a sharp distinction between pure and applied research. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 was intended to increase government involvement in mathematics and science education in order to catch up with the Soviets in the mass training of engineers and scientists. It proved easier, however, to import qualified personnel from abroad. Changes in U.S. immigration laws toward preferential acceptance of professional and technical workers with degrees led in the 1960s to the serious problem of brain drain, first for Western Europe and later for many third world countries, but the same process made American science multiracial, diverse, and less American.

For the Soviet Union, Sputnik was a propaganda and diplomatic coup that changed the country's international image to that of a technologically advanced superpower roughly equal to the United States and increased the attractiveness of the Soviet model, especially in the developing world. From a military perspective, as the visible tip of the ICBM program, Sputnik signified the start of a more symmetrical stage in the Cold War, in which both opposing alliances possessed efficient deterrence against the other. The transition was hard to swallow for the United States, producing the dangerous Cuban missile crisis of 1962, but eventually resulted in a more stable state of growing mutual awareness that a thermonuclear war could not be won in principle. Indeed, Khrushchev's acquaintance with the progress of nuclear and missile development was a major factor in his proclamation of "peaceful coexistence" as the official Soviet strategy in 1956. Soviet leaders felt they needed real nuclear parity—catching up with the United States in the actual numbers of missiles and warheads rather than in the militarily and economically useless moon race—which became their first priority in the post-Sputnik period and was accomplished during the rest of the 1960s. It also can be argued that their pride in the space victory and the effects of their own bombastic propaganda contributed to the dominance of a self-congratulatory mood among Soviet leaders in later years, which made them less competitive and less willing to strive for changes. At least chronologically, Sputnik and Gagarin coincided with the acme of Soviet civilization, before it entered stagnation and decline. They thus remain in public perception the symbols of its greatest accomplishments and contributions to world culture.

See alsoCold War; Gagarin, Yuri; Space Programs.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barsdale Clowse, Barbara. Brainpower for the Cold War: The Sputnik Crisis and the National Defense Education Act of 1958. Westport, Conn., 1981.

Chertok, Boris E. Rakety i liudi. 4 vols. Moscow, 1999–2002.

Dickson, Paul. Sputnik: The Shock of the Century. New York, 2001.

Golovanov, Yaroslav. Korolyov: Fakty i mify. Moscow, 1994.

McDougall, Walter A. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. New York, 1985.

Siddiqi, Asif A. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge. Gainesville, Fla., 2003.

——. The Soviet Space Race with Apollo. Gainesville, Fla., 2003.

Alexei Kojevnikov

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