The Satellite that Started the Space Race

By Nick Iglesias

What was Sputnik?

History forever changed when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I into low Earth orbit on October 4, 1957. It was the world's first artificial satellite, it was roughly the size of a beach ball and was 22.8 inches in diameter and weighed 183.9 pounds. It also took roughly 98 minutes to orbit the Earth. The most important part of the Sputnik launch was that it started the Space Race and ushered in a wave of new technological advancements and even led to the creation of NASA.

The Impact on the Decade

Sputnik led to many things following its launch including the Space Race and many historic events. It was the Dawn of the Space Age and caused America to begin work on the Explorer project. The launch of Sputnik ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments and advancements. The Sputnik launch also led directly to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Each country had their programs, America with Explorer, and the Soviet Union with Sputnik. This went on until the space missions became more serious.

Connection to Today and Solutions for the Future

The connection I made to today was weapons development against other countries for a few reasons. When Sputnik first launched it showed how advanced technology can become. Because of this America feared that the Soviets would soon be be able to launch nuclear weapons into space. So America decides to join the Space Race against the Soviets and create their own space technology. But, once America sees that they are falling behind in terms of space milestones and historic firsts, they create NASA and invest over $25 billion into funding a mission to put a man on the moon. Even though it is mostly unknown how weapons developments is going in America, a solution could be to heavily invest in the program to have the weapons and tools when we need them.


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Sputnik launched. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sputnik-launched

Sputnik. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.russianspaceweb.com/sputnik.html