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Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse Sputnik Mania for showing
how American ignorance and arrogance let the Soviet
Union take a commanding lead in space.

Sputnik Mania

Sputnik Mania (2013) - 90 minutes
Sputnik Mania at Amazon.com

On October 4, 1957, the USSR announced to an unsuspecting world that it had launched the first man-made object ever to successfully orbit the earth. Americans were stunned, then terrified. What had happened to our vaunted academic and technological superiority? Were the Soviets going to overtake us? Worst of all, could their satellites be used as weapons of mass destruction?

The 1950's had been a heady time for Americans. Ours was the most powerful nation on earth, the leader of the free world. We were the best, the richest, the smartest - and we knew it down to our very core. Then came Sputnik.

Sputnik Mania, from History™, vividly recalls the impact the satellite had on the American psyche, and how the shock catapulted the nation from complacency into action. Within the year, NASA was born, states instituted massive educational reforms, and a new breed of researchers - rocket scientists - focused on a single critical goal: winning the Space Race.

11-8-17 The dog that orbited the Earth
The first living creature to orbit the Earth was a stray dog from the Soviet Union called Laika. She was sent into space in November 1957. Prof Viktor Yazdovsky played with Laika as a child when his father brought her home from the Soviet space headquarters before her mission. (Webmaster's comment: The first living creature to go into outer space. She died because of heat and because the soviet scientists had not designed any method to bring her back.)

10-5-17 The team that tracked Sputnik - and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile
The team that tracked Sputnik - and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile
Sixty years ago, the rocket that sent Sputnik into space was the first intercontinental ballistic missile ever launched. The (barely finished) Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire was the only instrument with the scale and power to potentially track it. Dr Bryan Lovell explains the leading role British scientists played there in this chapter of the Cold War.

10-4-17 Sputnik: How the Soviet Union spun the satellite launch
Sputnik: How the Soviet Union spun the satellite launch
The launch of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, 60 years ago kicked off the space race between the Soviet Union and America. The satellite was a success not just in terms of scientific advancement but in terms of providing a propaganda opportunity for the socialist state. Early reports detailed a wealth of technical information about the launch of the "Earth satellite", such was the general interest in it. One news correspondent described seeing the satellite appear "like a flashing spark over the horizon" and the Communist Party's main newspaper, Pravda, wrote that "all the world heard the announcement of the launching of the artificial moon". But reports by the state news agency Tass also mentioned its orbital velocity of about 8km a second, the fact that it was travelling at up to 900km above the surface of the earth, and that Sputnik was making one complete revolution in an hour and 35 minutes. Russian media also detailed the frequencies and wavelengths on which Sputnik was emitting regular beeps, saying its transmitters were powerful enough for amateur radio operators to be able to receive them. Later, radio broadcasts to America touted the fact that the Soviet magazine Radio was offering "special prizes" for radio hams who submitted reports of the signals. Special broadcasts listed the places and times the satellite was expected to pass over. The day after its launch, Tass and Russian radio reported world reaction to it, noting how major media outlets like AFP, the Daily Mail and the BBC had reported it and how "some US radio stations interrupted their programmes in order to broadcast the satellite's signals".


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Sputnik Mania

Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse Sputnik Mania for showing
how American ignorance and arrogance let the Soviet
Union take a commanding lead in space.