10 Cool Facts about the Sputnik Satellite

10 Cool Facts About the Sputnik Satellite

History has a tale to explain every aspect of today’s culture, mentality, friendships, enemies, etc – these 10 Cool Facts about the Sputnik Satellite should help to shed light on these particular historic events which helped to shape and influence today’s everyday life.

When and What Took Place?

The Sputnik Satellite I was launched on October 4, 1957 and was the world’s first artificial satellite to be launched into space – an amazing accomplishment by the Soviets. Clap, clap.

The Sputnik I was the first of a series of four satellites which made up the Sputnik Satellite program. These satellites were launched by the Soviets and was most notable for the fact that it was ushered in during an era of military, scientific, political and technological developments.

Who Were these Two Superpowers?

This was also a time of war and competition between the World’s two superpowers; the United States in the western hemisphere and the Soviet Union in the eastern hemisphere.

Both superpowers had influence that extended well beyond their borders and a showdown was ensuing. Their respective space programs were simply a muscle being flexed to show one another that neither power, nor strength were absent in their agendas.

What About the 10 Sputnik Satellite Facts?

Below, we’re going to take a look at a set of 10 Cool Facts about The Sputnik Satellite; which helped set the stage for all future space developments and assisted the Soviets dig their heals in during one of the most critical and important races of all time; the great space race between the United States (US) and the Soviet Union (USSR).

Sputnik Satellite Fact #10: Sorry Bunny, it Stopped Going

The Sputnik Satellite I was in operation for roughly three weeks before it ceased operations and relaying information back to Russia.

The Sputnik I transmitters were continuously sending signals and data back to the Earth, unfortunately, this only lasted for about 21 days.




Eventually, the Sputnik Satellite I chemical (silver-zinc) batteries which were aboard failed on October 26, 1957.

The Sputnik Satellite I eventually burned out on January 4, 1958 when the Sputnik Satellite entered the Earth’s atmosphere after spending a short, but monumental 3 months in orbit.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #9: Competition is Best Served Cold

The launch of The Sputnik I was directly responsible for the creation of the United States’ NASA, a competitive country is the best type of country. The United States weren’t willing to accept second place and needed to compete with the Soviets.

The launch of the Sputnik I by the Soviets spurred the United States to approve funding of another satellite project, prior to this the only other Vanguard satellite had been launched was during the International Geophysical Year (IGY, July 1, 1957 – December 31, 1958).





This event was named the Explorer Project. Explorer I was launched on January 31, 1958 – pretty impressive. It wasn’t until the Sputnik Satellite I launched which ultimately spurred the funding and enthusiasm around the National Aeronautics and Space Act (passed by the Congress in July 1958), which was the bill that created NASA (October 1, 1958).

Sputnik Satellite Fact #8: Size Doesn’t Matter if it’s Spherical

The Sputnik Satellite was only a small sphere, but necessity often times trumps aesthetics.

The Sputnik Satellite measured just 22 inches in diameter, entirely polished and pressurized with aluminum and an alloy outer sphere. The Sputnik Satellite had four long antennas which were drawn out to one side like whiskers.




The Sputnik I antennae by themselves were nearly 8 and 9.5 feet long.

The Sputnik Satellite I pressurized aluminum chamber contained nitrogen, pretty wild. The two radio transmitters located within the sphere were responsible for producing a discernible and distinctive beep sound – this was relayed back to Earth.

Later, this beep became responsible for a generation of propaganda, more to come on that one.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #7: Simple and Concise

The launch of the Sputnik Satellite I had only five major scientific objectives. Nonetheless, the primary objective was to successfully prove to the United States that the Soviets were capable of successfully sending an object into space and potentially parlaying this into a military application which would be exponentially advantageous over their hemisphere of influence.





The success of the Sputnik Satellite I gave the Soviets the historic prestige of successfully launching the first ever man-made object into space. The previously mentioned five objectives were fairly simple; these scientific objectives included:

  1. Test the method of putting an artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit
  2. Provide vital information about the density of the atmosphere
  3. Test optical methods of tracking the satellite as it propels in and out of orbit
  4. Study the effects of the propagation of radio waves through the atmosphere
  5. Test the pressurization principles used in the satellites

Sputnik Satellite Fact #6: A Large Soviet Object

The development of a project which was responsible for Object D; a large satellite which was built long before that of The Sputnik Satellite I, eventually became the predecessor to the Sputnik Satellite I.

Object D was the name given to a large satellite of nearly 3,100 LBS whose design commenced as early as 1956. However, the Sputnik Satellite I was launched in 1957, so you do the math.





The biggest reason this project took so long and didn’t launch before the Sputnik Satellite I is mostly due to the ongoing delay of Object D’ develop. This process and project took longer than was expected. I’d hate to have been one of those Scientists responsible for that delay. Hope they still have their heads…

Nonetheless, Object D was later launched in 1958 as the Sputnik Satellite III. The Sputnik Satellite III was designed to take measurements of the upper atmosphere and relay that information back down to Earth.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #5: A Marathon Isn’t a Sprint

The Sputnik I completed 1,440 orbits around Earth before it burned out. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the time, even a single orbit would have been a monumental feat that would forever be remembered in the history books.

The Sputnik Satellite I, which weighed only about 184 pounds, moved at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour and was capable of orbiting the Earth roughly once every hour and a half.




The Sputnik Satellite I orbit was so low that it was visible through a pair of binoculars either right before sunrise or shortly after sunset, here on Earth.

However, for observers, it was extremely difficult to follow (with binoculars) the spherical shape of the Sputnik Satellite. Something else that’s of interest, the beeps transmitted by the Sputnik Satellite I back to Earth were strong enough to be picked up by HAM radio operators several times a day – pretty wild for amateur astronomers.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #4: Planned Propaganda is Most Effective

The launch of The Sputnik Satellite I did not result in immediate Soviet propaganda, but don’t you worry, the Soviets were master propagandists.

Even though it was the Soviets who were responsible for successfully launching the first ever man-made object into space, the Sputnik Satellite; there was no immediate propaganda campaigns about their success.





Much speculation has taken place over this, however, many agree that it’s most likely because of their fear that secrets would leak out which would be exploited by the Americans.

Eventually, the Soviets ran a full-steam-ahead propaganda campaign and articulated itself in the form of encouraging the public to listen to the beeps from the Sputnik Satellite I over their HAM radios and to even look for the satellite in the night’s sky.

There’s no propaganda or success better communicated than audibly and visually. Clap, clap again, Soviets.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #3: Please Turn to Chapter 3

The launch of The Sputnik Satellite I brought on several changes in the United States’ school’s curriculum and forever changed the way Americans viewed the space race and competition between our greatest rival of all time; the USSR.

The Sputnik Satellite I contributed to a new emphasis on the learning of subjects such as science and technology in schools throughout the United States.

The National Defense Education Act was a four-year program enacted by Congress which helped to provide loans at lower than usual interest rates for college students who were majoring in science, technology and mathematics.





Billions of dollars were directed towards improving the quality of education for these specific areas of study.

In just a few years’ time, the funding behind this strategic initiative multiplied over six times its original budget and helped to gear up America’s space program. The launch inspired an entire generation of scientists and engineers and even made astronauts more famous and heroic than any other profession to date.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #2: To Beat, or to Beatnik…

The famous term “Beatnik” was largely inspired after the launch of the Sputnik Satellite I, which later became a household term used by generations of all ages.

Inspired by the launch of the Sputnik I, the United States’ native author, Herb Caen, coined the word “Beatnik”.





Beatniks generally referred to those of the “Beat Generation” and consisted of authors who didn’t conform to mainstream society and who were possibly, but certainly quietly, pro-communist.

The Beat Generation consisted of authors and artists who made up a sub-culture whose writings, artwork and literature thought to have been influenced by the Soviets and subconsciously pushed the Americans and their culture in the Post World War II period.

However, over time, the original meaning of the term was lost and Beatniks simply meant those who used it as an excuse to be senselessly wild. Beatnik was later popularly changed to “hippie”.

Sputnik Satellite Fact #1: My Only Fear, is Fear Itself

The “Sputnik Crisis” was a term coined by the then United States’ President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Little would anyone have guessed, this term would serve as an important part of the pro-American self-propagated agenda put forth by the American against the Soviets.

The Sputnik Crisis was a term for a period of time that referred to the fear and anxiety that arose in the minds of the public about the technological gap between the Americans and the Soviets, after the launch of the Sputnik Satellite(s).




This national sentiment was further aggravated by the failure of the Vanguard projects of the United States. The United States feared that the warhead which launched the Sputnik Satellite I could carry a nuclear warhead to anywhere in the world in a matter of a few minutes, much less effortlessly over the borers of the US.

The United States took this threat very seriously, despite a vast oceanic and technically advanced missile alert and defense system.

The publication of the calculated orbit which appeared in journals during that time helped to quell the fear. Nonetheless, skeptics remained skeptical and countered these arguments with concerns and fear.

Ultimately, this publication provided more support to the fact that the Soviet Union was not trying to dominate space through the launch of the Sputnik Satellite I.

Sputnik Satellite Conclusion

In conclusion, the United States and the Soviets were always trying to one-up one another. Technology has always been a critical part of a country’s defense system, as well as a successful propaganda campaign. At the end of the day, Americans continue to speak English and live in a much more mild sense of fear of Russia’s eastern influence and dismay towards the United States.

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