Moscow, USSR (JFK+50) Fifty-nine years ago today, October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union announced the successful launch of Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth.
Sputnik traveled at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour with each orbit taking 96.2 minutes to complete.The designers, engineers and technicians of the satellite waited until 90 minutes after lift-off to inform Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev because they wanted to be certain of the success of the mission.
Soviet news agency TASS reported...
"As a result of great, intense work of scientific institutes and design bureaus, the 1st artificial satellite has been built."
Sputnik I was 23 inches in diameter and made of polished metal. The satellite had four external radio antennas which sent out pulses until the batteries lost power after 22 days in space.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was not surprised by the announcement of the launch of Sputnik but was surprised by the reaction of shock by the American people that the Soviets were so far ahead of us in the space race.
Sputnik completed 1,440 orbits before its service ended on Jan. 4, 1958.
Replica of Sputnik I
US National Air & Space Museum
NSSDC, NASA Photo (2004)