By: Cooper Reisbeck

What is Sputnik?

Sputnik or Sputnik 1 was a Soviet Satellite that was launched on October 4, 1957. Sputnik weighed 184 pounds and was 22 inches wide. As Sputnik orbited Earth, it traveled at 18,000 miles per hour. It was visible through binoculars from Earth. Also, Sputnik's radio signal was known to be strong enough to be picked up by your everyday 1950's radio.

Why Was Sputnik Launched?

Sputnik was a huge part of the space race. When the White House announced plans to launch a satellite in July of 1955, it pushed the Soviets to start plans of their own. The U.S. satellite was going to be called Vanguard. After the launch of Sputnik the U.S. believed that it could be possible for the Soviets to launch ballistic missiles that could potentially carry nuclear weapons from Europe to the U.S.. All in all, Sputnik was launched in order to not only gain intelligence, but to show the U.S. that they can produce as well.

Sputnik II

Sputnik II was the second Earth-orbiting satellite launched. It was launched on November 3rd, 1957. Sputnik II was also the first biological spacecraft. It was 4 meters tall and 2 meters wide. It carried radio transmitters, a telemetry system, and a temperature control center but most importantly a dog! Sputnik II had a built in cabin for the first space traveling dog named Laika. When Sputnik II reached orbit, a certain "Blok" didn't separate as planned and created heat inside. It got up to 104 degrees fahrenheit in the cabin. Sadly, Laika only survived 2 of the suspected 10 days in space because of the heat. Sputnik II returned to earth on April 14th, 1958. It orbited for 162 days.

The Impact on the Decade

Sputnik had a big impact on the decade of the 50's. During the 50's the Cold War was in full force. The launch of Sputnik raised questions about Soviet Russia. What are they capable of? What could they be planning? Who was really behind it? These kinds of questions just intensified the Cold War for the United States. For all they knew Sputnik could be used for spying on America. It could be carrying super weapons! Sputnik also pushed the rest of the world but mostly the U.S. farther into the space race. More and more new technology began to be created because of Sputnik.

Connections to Today and Solutions for the Future

In the 1950's, America thought that they were the most scientifically advanced country in the world, that is until Sputnik. Sputnik proved that other countries had the capabilities of doing something amazing. This connects to today because now we know that many other countries are just as capable of doing the things we can. Now days you see many interesting scientific projects from around the world. Sputnik also inspired many young astronomers. A whole new generation in the 50's were then glued to the news of Sputnik. Their new love for space was quickly passed on through more generations. This fascination will continue to be passed on through future generations as well. We can dedicate a good chunk of today's space interest to Sputnik, almost 60 years ago.


History.com Staff (2009) Sputnik Launched: 1957. Retrieved March 14, 2016 from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sputnik-launched

Garber (2007) Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age: 1957. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/

Than (2007) The Scientific Legacy of Sputnik: 1957. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.space.com/4421-scientific-legacy-sputnik.html

History.com Staff (2010) The Soviet Space Dog: 1957. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-soviet-space-dog