Thursday, October 04, 2007


Fifty years ago a massive rocket lifted off from the steppes of Kazakhstan carrying into space the first man made satellite. This was, and still is, a significant event in human history because the launch took place fifty four year after the Wright brothers flight. Fifty four years isn't such a long time in a life of an invention if you consider the fact that the wheel was around for centuries before somebody combined it with an engine, improving on the existing concept. That breakthrough eventually lead to manned space flight, Moon landings, the International Space Station, and countless satellites which constantly orbit the Earth. Ever since that first launch it has been easier, cheaper, and safer to launch unmanned probes to explore the Solar system and the rest of the galaxy. While mankind plunged bravely into exploration of the unknown that abounded on this planet, Space, to paraphrase Star Trek, has remained the one frontier where very few men have gone before. In the fifty years since Sputnik orbited the Earth, Space flight has not developed as much as regular flight in the same amount of time. Fifty years after the Wright Flyer took off from Kitty Hawk, I am talking about the year 1953, aviation become an acceptable mode of transportation. But Space travel is still the domain of governments and the very rich, not to mention that only three countries in the world launched humans into Space successfully. Anyway, getting back to Sputnik, here is a story about what happened behind the scenes before the Sputnik launch. And here is one about what happened after it reached the end of its useful life and fell back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.