Sputnik 1 Satellite

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. It orbited for three weeks before its batteries ran out then silently continued to orbit the planet for two months before it fell back into the atmosphere on the 4th of January 1958.

It was a polished metal sphere 58 cm (23 in) in diameter with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable by radio amateurs, and the 65° orbital inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth.

The satellite’s unanticipated success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the launch was the beginning of a new era of political, military, technological and scientific developments. The word “sputnik” is Russian for satellite when interpreted in an astronomical context; its other meanings are spouse or traveling companion.