On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in history from the Baikonur cosmodrome in
more than twice the size of a basketball, a silvery sphere, polished to a high sheen to aid in telescope tracking. This is the shiny ball with four trailing antennas design that most of us will think of when we hear the word "Sputnik." This iconic design is incorporated into the Sputnikfest logo and has been memorialized on one of Tina Kugler's popular annual Sputnikfest posters.
In a world in the grip of the cold war, during a time when the Soviet Union and the United States stared each other down with the implied threat of mutual mass destruction, Sputnik altered the nature and scope of the cold war. Sputnik I contained two radio transmitters, which sent back the “beep-beep-beep” heard round the world. Click here for a short podcast from NASA featuring audio of the "Beep Heard 'Round the World."
Sputnik I remained in orbit just three months. Its orbit decayed and it burned up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere on January 4, 1958. Planet Terry