Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik - Analogue Native?

50 years ago today!
Now, I really don't remember this because I was only three years old, but I bet this little beasty was made up of early transistors and didn't have a digital bone in it's body. I would love to see the circuit diagram of this 'bleeping machine'. I'll bet it had a bi-stable mulivibrator, modulating transformer and a big valve!

Launch date: 4 October 1957
Mission: First man-made satellite to orbit the Earth

In 1957, Sputnik 1 became the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. The world looked on with awe as the space age began.
Sputnik was a triumph of technology. It sent back information about the atmosphere at the edge of space - and of course, it showed that man was capable of sending a spacecraft into orbit.
Yet Sputnik was never intended to be a scientific mission. The United States had already announced their plans to launch the first satellite. The Soviet Union wanted to show the world that their space technology was the best in the world. Sputnik's radio broadcast at a frequency that amateur radio fans could tune into - just to make sure the whole world was talking about the little craft.

Sputnik's transmissions were monitored all around the world. The craft itself was less than a metre across. However, the booster rocket that launched it also reached orbit, and this was easily visible from the Earth.
The satellite's batteries lasted about three weeks. The craft itself remained in orbit for nearly six months, and completed 1400 orbits of the Earth. The fact that the Soviet Union launched a craft that repeatedly flew over America did much to spur on the American space programme.

The word 'Sputnik' originally meant 'fellow traveller'. However, thanks to this little spacecraft, 'Sputnik' has come to mean 'satellite' in modern Russian.

Now this link is brilliant, it tells the story of and launch of Sputnik 1 Click HERE!

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