Today In History: Sputnik Launches

Today In History: Sputnik Launches



On October 4th, 1957 the Soviet Union successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite which orbited the Earth in roughly 98 minutes for about three weeks before its batteries gave out. Known as Sputnik, the Russian word for natural satellite, it then silently orbited before falling back into the atmosphere on January 4th, 1958. Sputnik was monitored by radio operators throughout the world.


How could a satellite which was about the size of a beachball and weighed 184 pounds, make such a significant impact on history? Sputnik provided information about the density of the upper atmosphere and the radio signals offered data on the ionosphere, the layer of Earth's atmosphere that extends 50-600 above the surface our planet. More importantly, it marked a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific growth and developments -- many would say, the "Space Race" which was part of the Cold War (1947-1991), a period of geopolitical tension between Eastern Bloc countries (Soviet Union and allies) and the Western Bloc (Unites States and allies).


Read more below and also check out NASA's, "Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age", which includes a chronology, audio-video, books, and documents on this important event and its long-lasting influence.


The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.























  • Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries




Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check additional Cafe News postings on the library blog.

  • Learning at the Library
  • News Cafe
Back to skip to quick links
occupancy image
occupancy image
occupancy image
The library is
crowded right now.
How busy?