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Encyclopedia > Sputnik
Sputnik 1

The Sputnik program was a series of unmanned space missions launched by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s to demonstrate the viability of artificial satellites. The name "Sputnik" ("Спутник") comes from Russian where it means "satellite" or "fellow traveller".

Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957. See that page for mission details.

Sputnik 2 was launched some months later, and carried the first living passenger, a dog named Laika. The mission planners did not provide for the safe return of the spacecraft or its passenger, making Laika the first space casualty.

The first attempt to launch Sputnik 3 on February 3, 1958 failed, but the second on May 15 succeeded, and it carried a large array of instruments for geophysical research. Its tape recorder failed, however, making it unable to measure the Van Allen radiation belts.

Sputnik 4 was launched into orbit two years later on May 15, 1960.

Sputnik 5 was launched into orbit on August 19, 1960 with the dogs Belka and Strelka (Russian for "Squirrel", or more likely "Whitey" from Russian "belyj", which means "white", and "Little Arrow"), 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants on-board. The spacecraft returned to earth the next day and all animals were recovered safely.

All Sputniks were carried to orbit by the R.7 launch vehicle, originally designed to carry ballistic warheads.

The surprise launch of Sputnik 1, coupled with the spectacular failure of the first two Project Vanguard launch attempts, shocked the United States, which responded with a number of early satellite launches including Explorer I, Project SCORE, Advanced Research Projects Agency and Courier 1B. Sputnik also led to the creation of NASA and major increases in U.S. Government spending on scientific research and education. See: Sputnik crisis.

  Results from FactBites:
Sputnik 1 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (964 words)
Coming at the height of the Cold War, the launching of Sputnik caught the West by surprise, and in the U.S. led to a wave of self-recriminations, the beginning of the space race, and a movement to reform science education.
Sputnik was the first of several satellites in the Soviet Union's Sputnik program, the majority of them successful.
The Sputnik 1 spacecraft was the first artificial satellite successfully placed in orbit around the Earth and was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome at Tyuratam (370 km southwest of the small town of Baikonur) in Kazakhstan, then part of the Soviet Union.
MSN Encarta - Sputnik (561 words)
The first three Sputnik satellites each carried instruments to measure the temperature and density of the earth's upper atmosphere, the electron density of the ionosphere, and the size and number of micrometeorites (tiny particles in space).
Sputniks 5, 6, 9, and 10 all carried dogs, most of which reentered the earth's atmosphere safely and were recovered.
Sputniks 7 and 8, launched in February 1961, served as launching platforms for the Venera spacecraft, which were sent toward Venus.
  More results at FactBites »



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