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FILE--This first official picture of the Soviet satellite Sputnik I showing the four-antennaed satellite resting on a three-legged pedestal. Working in obsessive secrecy, the Soviets propelled the Sputnik satellite into space on Oct. 4, 1957, making it the first man-made object to reach the limits of the earth s gravity. It mattered little that the small, silver orb had little purpose beyond achieving orbit and sending back a monotonous bleep-bleep signal as it circled the globe every 95 minutes during its three-month existence. At the height of the Cold War, Sputnik was one of the Soviet Union s most glorious victories and it touched off near panic in the United States, where political and military leaders forecast grave consequences if America lagged behind. (AP Photo)
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Look up there! Oct. 4 marked the 59th anniversary of the Space Age

FILE--This first official picture of the Soviet satellite Sputnik I showing the four-antennaed satellite resting on a three-legged pedestal. Working in obsessive secrecy, the Soviets propelled the Sputnik satellite into space on Oct. 4, 1957, making it the first man-made object to reach the limits of the earth s gravity. It mattered little that the small, silver orb had little purpose beyond achieving orbit and sending back a monotonous bleep-bleep signal as it circled the globe every 95 minutes during its three-month existence. At the height of the Cold War, Sputnik was one of the Soviet Union s most glorious victories and it touched off near panic in the United States, where political and military leaders forecast grave consequences if America lagged behind. (AP Photo)

Oct. 4 marked the 59th anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age! On that date in 1957, the Russians launched the first satellite, known as Sputnik 1, into orbit from the Baikonur 1/5 launch facility.

The tiny metal sphere, only 23 inches in diameter and weighing in at 184 pounds, circled the Earth every 96.2 minutes, broadcasting a signal at 20 mhz and 40 mhz.

The launch of Sputnik was a great psychological shock to many in the Western world, as there was an object flying over your town and out of reach!

Sputnik 1 continued to broadcast for some 21 days and burned up in the atmosphere on Jan. 4, 1958.

Sputnik 1 had an inclination of 65.1 degrees and passed 133.6 miles over Earth at its lowest point of orbit, to a high orbit of 583.5 miles at apogee.

An interesting fact about Sputnik 1, is the fact that observers on the ground, may not have been viewing the actual satellite, as it was so small, but they were actually seeing the large booster rocket, the R-7.

To celebrate the Space Age, you can see many of the thousands of Earth-orbiting satellites in your own back yard by going to HeavensAbove.com

Just plug in you location and get set for some great satellite observing.

You can also get your very own free download of the October star chart at SkyMaps.com.

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