Replica of Sputnik 1
|Mission type||Technology demonstration|
|Operator||Soviet space program|
|Harvard designation||1957 Alpha 2|
|Mission duration||Final: 21 days|
Ministry of Radiotechnical Industry
|Launch mass||83.6 kg (184 lb)|
|Dimensions||58 cm (23 in) diameter|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||4 October 1957, 19:28:34UTC|
|Launch site||Baikonur 1/5|
|End of mission|
|Last contact||26 October 1957|
|Decay date||4 January 1958|
|Semi-major axis||6,955 km (4,322 mi)|
|Perigee||215 km (134 mi)|
|Apogee||939 km (583 mi)|
|Epoch||4 October 1957, 15:12:00 UTC|
Sputnik 1 (//; Russian: Спутник-1 [ˈsputnʲɪk] "Satellite-1", or ПС-1 ["PS-1", i.e., Russian: Простейший Спутник-1, Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1"]) was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments.
Tracking and studying Sputnik 1 from Earth provided scientists with valuable information, even though the satellite itself wasn't equipped with sensors. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave information about the ionosphere.
Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 mph; 8,100 m/s), taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz, which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957.Sputnik burned up on 4 January 1958 while reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 70 million km (43 million mi) and spending three months in orbit.