50 years ago to today, October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched a small, beachball-sized sphere into orbit named Sputnik I.
This event inaugurated not only the "space age" but the "communications and information age" as well because Sputnik did more than just placidly orbit the Earth- it sent back information (listen to a .wav file of the telemetry) about its journey.
Sputnik I stayed in orbit for three months until January 4, 1958 when its orbit decayed and it burned up upon re-entry.
It's impact cannot go unnoticed in today's world of cell phones, satellite television, the internet, et al. Take a moment to learn more about it and the world it helped create.
News & Overviews
Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Further reading at BSU Libraries-
a selection of books about Sputnik and its effects
(click on the title to view the CardCat record)
Astronomy from space : Sputnik to space telescope
QB136 .A79 1983
Blazing the trail : the early history of spacecraft and rocketry
TL781 .G78 2004
Countdown : a history of space flight
TL789.8.U5 H49 1997
History of the Internet : a chronology, 1843 to the present
TK5105.875.I57 H58 1999
The origins of satellite communications, 1945-1965
TK5104 .W48 2002
Spaceflight revolution : NASA Langley Research Center from Sputnik to Apollo
Available online: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS69854
We interrupt this broadcast : relive the events that stopped our lives-- from the Hindenburg to the death of Princess Diana
COMPACT DISC 6058
PN4784.T4 G36 1998