Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 4, 2012

AFSPC Milestone: USSR launched Sputnik, starting the space race

10/4/2012 - Peterson AFB, Colo.  -- Air Force Space Command is celebrating its 30th Anniversary! Here is a significant milestone from the command's history which led to the creation of a new command responsible for the space domain...

On 4 October 1957, the USSR launches Sputnik I, the world's first successful artificial satellite. The surprise success of the Russian's launch began the Space Age and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Col War. It also lead to the launch of Explorer I, the first US satellite to go into orbit, launched from then Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, Fla. approximately 4 months later. Mercury batteries powered the high-power transmitter on Explorer I for 31 days and the low-power transmitter for 105 days. Explorer 1 stopped transmission of data on May 23, 1958 when its batteries died, but remained in orbit for more than 12 years. It has been followed by more than 90 scientific spacecraft in the Explorer series.

Additionally, the launch of Sputnik ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. The public reaction to the "Sputnik crisis" led to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA in 1972), NASA, and an increase in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education.

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