Sputnik 1 was the first artificial earth satellite. It marks the beginning of the space age on 4 October 1957.
The satellite was launched for the International Geophysical Year 1957. The spherical Sputnik 1 (diameter 58 cm, weight 83.6 kg) was carried into space by an R-7 rocket. The rocket was designed by Sergei Korolyov. Korolyov becomes the father of the Soviet space program – similar to Wernher von Braun in the USA.
Sputnik flew in its orbit once around the Earth in about 96 minutes. He orbited the Earth for 92 days. His radio transmitter emitted beeping signals. These could be received all over the world. In Germany, Heinz Kaminski was the first person to receive it at the Volkssternwarte Bochum.
Sputnik was a tremendous prestige success for the Soviet Union. Nobody had expected the country to be able to achieve such technical heights. The fact that the Soviet Union was able to launch the first artificial earth satellite at all triggered the so-called Sputnik shock. It showed the USA how small and vulnerable it is. The Sputnik shock opened the ‘Space Race’ between the Soviet Union and the USA.