Sputnik and The Space Race By: Cory Forester


On October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I. It was the first artificial satellite. Sputnik was the size of a beach ball. It was 183.9 pounds. Every trip around the Earth took 96 minutes. ItIt went 18,000 mph. The launch of Sputnik I brought about new political, military, technological, and scientific improvements. It also was the beginning of the space race.

Space Race

In 1952, The International Council of Scientific Unions deemed the year of July 1, 1957 through December 31, 1958 the International Geophysical Year. In 1955 the White House announced the they would launch an Earth-orbiting satellite. Also in 1955 the Naval Research Laboratory's Vanguard Proposal was chosen to represent the U.S. during the IGY. This was was a satellite designed to have a 3.5 pound pay load. But soon the Soviet Union launched Sputnik II on Nov. 3 1955 and onboard was a dog named Laika. The U.S. needed to get its head in the game. We needed a new and better satellite. Wernher von Braun and his team began work on the Explorer. January 31, 1958 the U.S. launched Explorer I. The score is now 2-1 Soviet Union. Explorer I eventually discovered magnetic radiation rings around the Earth. The Explorer program continued successfully as an ongoing project of lightweight and scientifically useful spacecrafts.The first Sputnik launch led to the creation of NASA. In July of 1958 Congress passed "The Space Act". This act officially created NASA on October 1, 1958. Because of Earth's gravitational pull Sputnik's orbit gradually got smaller until it entered Earth's atmosphere burning up and crashing down to Earth. Sputnik was 10x bigger than our satellite. The Soviet Union thought they were the man because they had the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first group of men, he first space walk, the first spacecraft to hit the moon, the first to orbit the moon, the first to hit Venus, and first to successfully land a vehicle on the moon. The U.S. thought that their only way to pull ahead in the space race was to land men on the moon. So they turned to the Apollo program. The first ended burning in a ball of flames the second one however landed successfully three men on the moon on July 20, 1969. By landing men on the moon the U.S. had won the space race.

Space Race in Schools

The National Defense Education Act of 1958 funded science equipment to primary and secondary schools. It also loaned money to college students for science purposes. (A.K.A. It was the switch from Woody to Buzz.)


The worlds population gained many things from the space race. Satellite TV - 1983 it helped communicate with our astronauts . Laptops - 1979 it helped astronauts carry out navigation. Battery Powered Drill - 1979 it helped astronauts collect samples from moon. Smoke Detectors - 1970's they were and are used to detect smoke and harmful toxins in the air. Telemedicine - it helped astronauts stay healthy. Joystick - helped steer moon rover. 3D Graphics - trained astronauts using the Lunar Excursion Module. Non-Reflective Displays - it was put on screens of spacecrafts to reduce the reflections. Ear Thermometers - were used to measure the temperature of stars. Satellite Navigation/ UAV's -drones being used by the military today.

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