Monday, October 1, 2007

50 Years of Sputnik Launch

4th October,1957 is a very important date in the history of humanity. On that day Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik-I. Sputnik-I was world's first artificial satellite.


Sputnik-I had a very simple design. It was basically a sphere of 585mm dia, made of polished Aluminum alloy. Four antennas of length between 2.4m and 2.9m were attached to the sphere. It had been polished to have a highly reflecting surface, so that one could view it from the earth in naked eye. It carried 2 radio transmitters. The radio signal was used to gather information regarding the electron density of the ionosphere. But more importantly the signal was to announce that the superiority of the Soviet Science and Technology.

The outcome of the Sputnik I launch was something that hardly anybody had anticipated. It marked the start of the space race between the cold-war rivals US and the USSR. It also marked the beginning of the space age. The consequent space race resulted in a great deal of scientific and technological developments. The launch was undoubtedly one of the great milestones in the history of humanity.

Sergei Korelov and R-7

The space scientists of the Soviet Union were to be given the credit of this launch, not for the satellite, but for the rocket (R-7) that carried Sputnik-I to space. But there was one scientist Sergei Korelov, who was to be regarded as the man behind this entire project. Korelov was not only a brilliant engineer, but also an efficient manager and a great visionary. He could clearly envision the potential of R-7 . R-7 was mainly built to carry Soviet nuclear war-heads to US. Korelov could also imagine the importance and usability of space to the modern human society. Sergei Korelov is regarded as the Father of Soviet Space Mission.

It has been 50 years since the launch of Sputnik-I. Though USSR was the first to reach the moon, it was US which was first to have manned lunar missions. Soviet Union is now gone and there is superiority of the US(NASA) in the space arena. NASA has been successful in sending robotic probes to Mars and space vehicles to the outskirts of the solar system. But still Sputnik-I will always remain special for all the Aerospace evangelists.

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