Space Image: Sputnik 1

October 5, 2011
Image Credit: NASA/Asif A. Siddiqi

( -- On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 successfully launched and entered Earth's orbit. Thus, began the space age.

The successful shocked the world, giving the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space. The word 'Sputnik' originally meant 'fellow traveler,' but has become synonymous with 'satellite' in modern Russian.

This historic image shows a technician putting the finishing touches on Sputnik 1, humanity's first artificial satellite. The pressurized sphere made of had five primary scientific objectives: Test the method of placing an artificial satellite into ; provide information on the density of the atmosphere by calculating its lifetime in orbit; test radio and optical methods of orbital tracking; determine the effects of radio wave propagation though the atmosphere; and, check principles of pressurization used on the satellites.

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