Retreat to Sputnik-I — The Earth’s First Artificial Satellite

Exactly sixty-one years before, on the same date i.e. on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union had launched the earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik-I. The actual name of Sputnik-I was Sputnik Zelmi. In point of fact, the entire world made-up their minds that it would be the United States, which would launch the earth’s first satellite. However, the Russians sorted out this paramount. In this locale, it is worth stating here that the efficaciousness of Soviets induced fears among the U.S. military. Indubitably, the distress was, by and large, tumbled after the evolution of new technology. Consequently, it could be regarded justly that the launch of Sputnik worked for intensifying the arms race and thereby raise Cold War rigidities.

The successful launch of the unmanned satellite Sputnik I ensured that the Soviets had gained the upper hand in the arms race. Additionally, the progressive launch of Sputnik has safeguarded the Soviets to become closer in economic and political relations with third world nations across the world.

Both the superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — were occupied with the development of new technology, in the course of the 1950s. All through the same period, Nazi Germany had been nigh on evolving the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) near the end of the Second World War, and German scientists assisted research in both countries in the wake of that conflict. As a part of a goal-line set by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), both Soviets and Americans were also engaged in developing satellites. The ICSU had called for the launch of satellite technology during 1957-58. Before the successful launch of the Sputnik I by the Russians, the United States experimented with several variations of rockets and missiles but to no avail. In a string of technological successes, the Soviet launch of the first Sputnik satellite was one triumph.

Following the success of the launch of Sputnik-I, the U.S. intensified its experiments with artificial satellites. However, the U.S. Government grieved a stark hindrance in December of 1957 when its first artificial satellite, named Vanguard, detonated on the launch pad. This failure served the U.S. as a very noticeable aide-mémoire of its listlessness in reaching the success in the satellite race. After a long wait, on January 31, 1958, the United States flourished with the launch of its first satellite — the Explorer. The space race had thus begun with the launch of Sputnik I by the erstwhile USSR, and the Explorer by the U.S.

According to me, the entire modern technology depends more or less upon the satellite technology; and when we consider the history of artificial satellites, the first and foremost person to be remembered is — Sir Arthur Charles Clarke. In 1945, an article concerning the perception of satellites (artificial), titled: Extra Terrestrial Relays: Can Rockets Give Worldwide Radio Coverage? was first published in the Wireless World Magazine. The author of this article, Arthur C Clarke, was an ordinary man. He was then was employed with the British Royal Air Force. The quoted article turns to be the basis of entire satellite technology.

-Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi