Home »


Flag Counter

Flag Counter

Sputnik I Satellite – The Space Launch to Start the Space Age

Sputnik Launch on October 4 1957Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite launched on October 4, 1957, was a 83.6-kg (184-pound) capsule. It achieved an Earth orbit with an apogee (farthest point from Earth) of 940 km (584 miles) and a perigee (nearest point) of 230 km (143 miles), circling Earth every 96 minutes and remaining in orbit until January 4, 1958, when it fell back and burned in Earth’s atmosphere. The launch of Sputnik 1 shocked many Americans, who had assumed that their country was technologically ahead of the Soviet Union, and led to the “space race” between the two countries. The word SPutnik means “Traveling Companion” in Russian.

Soviet space officials had wanted the nation’s first satellite to be much bigger than a beach ball. The original plan called for lofting a nearly 3,000-lb. (1,400 kg) craft outfitted with a variety of scientific instruments.

But development of this satellite, code-named “Object D,” progressed more slowly than expected, and Soviet officials grew increasingly worried that the United States might beat them to space. So, they decided to precede the launch of Object D with a “simplest satellite,” or “prosteishy sputnik” in Russian. Indeed, Sputnik 1 was also known as PS-1. Sputnik 1 carried no scientific instruments. However, researchers did learn some things about Earth’s atmosphere by studying the beep-beep-beep radio signals emitted by the satellite.

Sputnik 1 was powered by three silver-zinc batteries, which were designed to operate for two weeks. The batteries exceeded expectations, as the satellite continued sending out its radio signal for 22 days.

The spacecraft continued lapping Earth in silence for a few more months, its orbit decaying and sending the craft steadily closer to the planet. The satellite finally burned up in the atmosphere on Jan. 4, 1958.

Space Shuttle Program

Parts of the Space ShuttleThe Space Shuttle Program of NASA was one of the turning points in the mankind’s quest for space. It made manned flight become more common by having reusable spacecraft that could be used for several missions again and again. Space Shuttle Program which had its first flight on April 12, 1961 was able to make going to space become commonplace and many civilians were also able to go to space due to the space shuttle program.

Between the first launch on April 12, 1981, and the final landing on July 21, 2011, NASA’s space shuttle fleet — Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour — flew 135 missions, helped construct the International Space Station and inspired generations. NASA’s space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12, 1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

As humanity’s first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA’s field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.

Space Shuttle in Orbit

In July 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time, ending the storied career of NASA’s fleet of space shuttles. The winged orbiters were NASA’s human spaceflight workhorses for 30 years and helped build the ISS, which celebrated its 20th anniversary of continuous human occupation last year.