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October marks 60th anniversary of start of space program

(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the dawn of the space age, with the launch of the tiny analog metal sphere known as the Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957.

Mankind had always dreamed of going into outer space and the plans for the first artificial moon, or satellite, has a most amazing story attached to it!

The father of Russian space travel was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a Russian rocket scientist who spent his entire life providing proof that space travel was possible.

He wrote a book, titled “The Will Of  The Universe” in 1928, proposing a theory in which the human race would be better served by venturing out to the planets and colonizing the solar system.

Related: Arizona’s October skies offer famous moon, rarely-seen Uranus

He also put forth some elaborate plans for building massive rockets that would propel humans into space.

Those plans came to reality, with the then Soviet Union’s launch of the worlds first satellite, on Oct. 4, 1957. The tiny metal sphere known as Sputnik 1, was launched atop the R-7 Semyorka booster rocket. The R-7 was a modified Soviet ICBM.

The Russian translation of Sputnik is, “fellow traveler of Earth.”

The Sputnik satellite was 23 inches in diameter and weighed a total of 183 pounds. The satellite had a radio transmitter, which sent our signals for some 21 days after launch.

The launch of the first Sputnik, sent political shock waves around the world, as this was the first time in history that another nation placed an object over another nation, far above the normal boundaries of our airspace.

People around the world marveled at how a small object could be placed in orbit around the Earth.

Others though of the military advantage that the Soviets had over the west, as now they could launch a payload over any nation on the planet.

The launch of Sputnik started the Cold War space race.

Today, we have well over 2,271 satellites orbiting the Earth and well over a half a million pieces of space debris, with a diameter between  to 10 centimeters in size.

Space today is a very crowded environment and it will get more crowded in the years to come.

You can see many of the satellites that orbit the Earth, from the ISS to Hubble space telescope, right here in our Arizona skies. Visit this website to view these objects and more — right from your backyard.

To get your very own October sky chart, visit here.

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