Launch date: October
Tyuratam, Kazakh Republic, Soviet Union (now Kazakhstan)
Size: 56 centimeters
(22 inches) in diameter
Weight: 83 kilograms
Time to orbit Earth:
939 kilometers (583 miles)
courtesy of NASA.
the Sputnik was launched in 1957, it shocked the world.
Even though Sputnik was just 22 inches in diameter (slightly
larger than a basketball), the Soviets' successful launch
of a satellite thrust the United States into a space
race that paralleled the arms race of the Cold War.
The satellite, which was designed to reveal information
about the density of the upper atmosphere, transmitted
signals to Earth for 21 days and burned up in the Earth's
atmosphere on January 4, 1958. Some consider the Sputnik
launch a major motivator for the United States goverment's
establishment of NASA just a year later.
Science Center's Sputnik 1
The Sputnik 1 on display at the Science Center is a
full scale model of the satellite. The model was built
especially for the California Science Center by Movie
and the Origins of the Space Age
This fascinating page by Roger Launius chronicles the
American response to the Sputnik launch. Among the details
about the paranoia and fear that followed the launch,
Launius reveals that the Soviets timed the launch to
coincide with a party at the end of an international
scientific conference for maximum impact.
and the Dawn of the Space Age
NASA developed this brief page about Sputnik, which
features a sound file of Sputnik 1's telemetric beeps
as it passed over the United States.
Beep Heard Round the World
Scientific American marked the fortieth anniversary
of Sputnik 1's launch with this article, which includes
another perspective on the effects of the Sputnik launch
on the United States and the world.
A visit to this page, which includes a count of most
of the satellites that have orbited the Earth, is a
great way to see the effects of Sputnik on today's skies.
Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center
See the space race from the other side when you drop
in on this site for the home of the Russian space program.