Sixty Years After Sputnik

I was less than one year old and the Space Race assumed ominous proportions with the launching of Sputnik on October 4, 1957 by the Soviet Union.  Its radio transmissions could be picked up easily by amateur radio enthusiasts and its orbit was low enough, the Soviets making sure its orbit was over the most densely populated portions of the planet, to be seen by the naked eye.  The propaganda victory for the Soviets was immense and the US saw its claim to be ahead in science seem to be hollow.   Politicians had a herd of collective cows and the Space Race was kicked into high gear.  The US satellite Explorer I was launched on January 31, 1958, the day following my future bride’s birth, after the Soviets had launched their second Sputnik in November of 1957.  Developing satellite technology in response to Sputnik and beating the Soviets to the moon  became  a key element in the Cold War.  Sputnik burned up on reentry on January 4, 1958, but its impact on history continues to reverberate to today.