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Drew Ex Machina

Sputnik: The Launch of the Space Age

4 Oct 2017, 12:41 UTC
Sputnik: The Launch of the Space Age
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Born just over four years into the Space Age, I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s enthralled with the succession of space missions which ultimately inspired me to become a physicist who has spent most of his career working in space-related sciences (see “When I Thought My Dad was an Astronaut“) not to mention a historian writing about space exploration. During a trip to Washington, DC in May 1984 to attend a Society of Physics Students conference, I had a chance to make my first visit to the National Air and Space Museum and saw hanging in one of the display halls a replica of the satellite which started it all: Sputnik. Launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, the orbiting of this first artificial Earth satellite had an unforeseen impact on the world and started a cascade of events which has impacted the lives of not only budding space enthusiasts like myself, but all of us with the family of new technologies and capabilities it introduced.

The Dream
The roots of Sputnik stretch back three-quarters of a century before its successful launch. Starting in 1883, a Russian schoolmaster named Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) became ...

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