Sputnikfest 2014


Rahr-West Art Museum - click HERE for more info!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sputnik: Episode III – A New Hope
I remember seeing a trailer for Star Wars (the first movie) at the Strand Theater in Manitowoc in 1977 – and knowing just from that short clip that this was something completely unlike any "space movie" that had ever come before.  Each movie was eagerly awaited – Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back, then Return of the Jedi.  (I also remember when the working title of that third installment was still “Revenge of the Jedi”).  Then – at some point we discovered that Star Wars I was actually Star Wars IV “A New Hope” going by the expanded storyline according to George Lucas.
I am probably stretching to make a connection here, but at some point after the Sputnik program, we found out that Sputnik III was actually supposed to be Sputnik I.  Intended to be a scientific exploration satellite designed to collect various types of geophysical data, it weighed almost one and a half tons.  Anxious to beat the US into orbit and not sure their rockets were ready to hoist such a heavy payload into orbit, the Russians put this heavier Sputnik on hold and opted instead to launch the 183 pound "lightweight" - Sputnik I.  The second Sputnik, the one which carried the ill-fated Laika into space was heavier – but at 1,120 pounds still much lighter than Sputnik III.
The 2,919 pound Sputnik III definitely raised the anxiety level in the US.  By successfully launching a payload this heavy into orbit the Russians demonstrated they had the capability of putting a seriously heavy warhead into orbit, if they chose to do so, and dropping it onto the United States.   Launched on May 15, 1958, Sputnik III remained in orbit for almost two years, disintegrating on re-entry into the atmosphere on April 6, 1960.
One little-known fact is that Sputnik III was actually an early prototype design for the evil Dalek cyborgs, which appeared just a few years later – in 1963 – in the long-running British science fiction series Dr. Who.
Okay, I just totally made that last part up.  But seriously … there is a family resemblance, is there not?  Planet Terry

No comments:

Post a Comment