A model of Sputnik 1 in Moscow's Memorial Museum

Today In History – October 4

The 4th of October saw two notable events happening in close succession. On that Friday in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, and by many considered to be the start of the space race between the two super powers at the time, the Soviet Union and the United States. Sputnik 1’s radio signals stayed active for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out, and it finally burned up upon re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere exactly 3 months after it’s launch, early 1958.

Two years to the day after that lunch, another significant event occured:

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/hires/lu3_1.gif

This is the first ever picture of the far side of the moon, taken by the Luna 3 satellite and transmitted by radio to Earth. These early photographs were only released to the public three weeks later, when they were shown briefly on the Russian television service’s midnight news bulletin, but the programs success would be seen as a major propaganda coup by the Soviet Union which established itself as the clear race leader in the new space age. Not only that, but it was Luna 3 which inspired Gagarin to fly outside of Earth’s atmosphere one day. And we all know what that led to…

 

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