Thursday, October 04, 2007

50 years ago today - Sputnik 1

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite to be put into geocentric orbit. Launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, it was the first satellite of the Sputnik program.

The satellite helped to identify the density of high atmospheric layers by its orbit change and provided data on radio-signal distribution in the ionosphere. Because the satellite's body was filled with pressurized nitrogen, Sputnik 1 also provided the first opportunity for meteorite detection, as losses in internal pressure due to meteoroid penetration of the outer surface would have been evident in the temperature data. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1's success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the so-called SpaceRace within the Cold War

Read the remainder of the wikipedia entry here