4 October 1957 – the start of the space age

thescienceeek.org is our space science instructor.

“The launch of Sputnik 1 caught many in America by surprise. For this reason, the period of time immediately after the Sputnik launch is often known as the “Sputnik Crisis”.”
“it was a tight squeeze to get Laika into the capsule and for the duration of the spaceflight she was barely able to move. Sadly for Laika, it was a one way ticket. Sputnik 2 could only carry enough food, water and oxygen for Laika to survive for 7 days”
“After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, different accounts of the Sputnik 2 mission emerged and it was suggested that she had died much earlier in the mission from lack of oxygen, or when the cabin had overheated.”

The Science Geek

Exactly sixty years ago today, on 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit around the Earth. This is considered to be the beginning of the space age. Before this date there were no man made satellites in space but on every single day since then there have been artificial satellites around the Earth. Today there are over 1000 active satellites in orbit (Union of Concerned Scientists 2017) and many times that number of defunct ones.

Image from NASA

Sputnik 1 is shown above. It consisted of a shiny metal sphere, 58.5 cm in diameter, made out of an aluminium alloy. To the sphere were attached four radio aerials. Unlike later satellites, Sputnik 1 carried no scientific instruments and wasn’t fitted with a TV camera to take pictures. It had no solar cells to generate electricity and was powered by three non-rechargeable batteries. Its…

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10 thoughts on “4 October 1957 – the start of the space age

      • This is a long, long subject. Matter of fact, I was debating this at my local’s “intellectual table” just night before last.
        I’ve become slightly disconnected from the specifics of the industry over the past two years or so, to be honest, but I still keep up to date as much as I can.
        To me, the starting point should’ve already happened. Our focus should be near-Earth and Lunar infrastructure for now (cleaning up some of that space junk would be of importance as well).
        The Mars mission gets me excited, but it does little as far as establishing a presence in space goes. I’m of the opinion robots should be used for the stuff that goes beyond our local neighbourhood (far as the moon, essentially). Problem is, with budget constraints and a general lack of enthusiasm, it’s just not cost-effective to send people out unless absolutely necessary.
        Right now, what I’d most like to see is to send robots out to the moon to start work on a little base that we can use.

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      • Yes, in fact it’s vital to leave behind the space romanticism and look at things pragmatically. Very interesting. Imagine a robot colony on another planet. Anyway… I guss robot integration in our sociery will happen first (it’s already happenning, in a way).

        Another important is a self-sustainable human colony outside Earth just for the sake of development of human race outside our planet. Maybe I am wrong, but I haven’t seen big interest in this thing.

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      • We’re still a-ways to go from having ‘true’ robots, but yeah, I do think we’ll have it first at home.
        My original claim to fame was actually to do with self-sustainable human colonies (or space settlements) that I designed for student competitions over a period of five-and-a-half years, and then some after I got to Uni. It’s completely possible (albeit not the ones we were designing) on a small scale right now, even though they’d be pricey.
        And while there is an interest in them, it’s just the costs vs benefits thing all over again. There needs to be more interest in the “what they should be doing up there” than the “why they should be there”, to be honest. If a project worthy of building one comes along, I’ll be at the front-lines lobbying for it 😛

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      • Well, I hypothesised (let me count) about eight of them in-competition, and one afterwards before moving onto things that would ‘actually’ go into space (spoiler alert: none of them ever have, yet).

        Out of the eight in-competition, half were completely independent. The one after is the same. I even added a jokey rule in a few of the later designs (the ones where I was working alone) where supply runs from Earth would be taxed in terms of air and water since any people coming in with the shipments would disturb the “pristine environment” I/we’d theorised. It’s amazing what you can do with existing technology.

        (Now, if only the couple’d hundreds of billions I’d need to start work on the Earth`… well, I wouldn’t be complaining…)

        On a more serious note: I’m going to unleash the Earth` in a novel, someday. That settlement (version 2.0) is my proudest achievement so far.

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      • Well, I have a few scattered files here and there from parts of the projects I did. Most of the team efforts have been lost in their entirety, and I’m not in touch with most of the people involved any longer.

        I didn’t actually do the project for Uni. I was rather working on perfecting the design on the side since I was learning the finer points of engineering at the time.

        The only one I have in full (somewhere) isn’t even mine. It’s my (now) best friend’s from the last conference I went to (long after I stopped competing). We decided to exchange submissions and ideas over our first date 😛
        It wasn’t bad, but her team was terrible, and the submission suffered for it.

        And as far as Uni goes, while I’m a Crow, I was temporarily an Eagle: http://erau.edu/

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