The world took a giant leap forward on Oct. 4, 1957, when a silver sphere the size of a basketball launched into space atop a Soviet Union rocket.

Sputnik 1, a small beeping ball with four long antennas, became the first artificial satellite to orbit, ushering in the Space Age and launching a race to the moon between the former Soviet Union and the U.S.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Sputnik's launch, SPACE.com presents a collection of stories and features that look back on five decades of human spaceflight and what the future may hold.

  • TIMELINE: 50 Years of Spaceflight
  • Anniversary Stories
  • Multimedia
  • Video
  • Spaceflight History Resources

Anniversary Stories

The Scientific Legacy of Sputnik
Sputnik changed how scientists in every discipline did science.


Click here for the TOP 10 Sputniks of all time compiled by collectSPACE.com.

50 Years of Spaceflight: Astronauts Ponder the State of Exploration
Fifty years after Sputnik's launch, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West.

Secrets of 1957 Sputnik Launch Revealed
Fifty years after Sputnik's launch, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West.

Apollo Astronauts Bring Moon Down to Earth in Film
NEW YORK -- Hundreds of astronauts have launched into space, but only a select few have looked back upon their home planet Earth from the Moon

New Memoir Chronicles Spaceflight Reporting
Only one person on the planet has covered every manned launch out of Cape Canaveral and now, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of spaceflight, he's written a book about it.


Multimedia

TIMELINE: 50 Years of Spaceflight
Click here for a voyage through the last five decades of spaceflight.

Top 10 Revelations of the Space Age
SPACE.com explores the follow-on effects Sputnik has had on science.

Top 10 Soviet and Russian Space Missions
Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, has long been at the forefront of the space frontier, beginning 50 years ago with the historic Oct. 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik - the world's first artificial satellite. Here is a rundown of the ten top Russian space missions from the drawing board to realization.

Vote for Your Favorite Manned Spacecraft
Cast your vote for the best of 10 different piloted spacecraft through the ages.

Lunar Legacy: The Best of the Moon
Vote now for your favorite views of the moon.

Space Milestones in Song
Start the countdown and cue the music.


Video

VIDEO: Human Spaceflight: The Dream of 40 Centuries
The long view of how human spaceflight came to be.

VIDEO: NASA Chief Michael Griffin - Where We Could Go?
NASA's Administrator looks back - and forward - from the 50th anniversary of spaceflight. First of a Two-Part Interview with Lon Rains. Credit: Space News TV.

VIDEO: NASA Chief Michael Griffin - Continuing the Lead
NASA's Administrator on America's position, ITAR and why Ares + Orion could still be our space workhorses in 2057. Credit: Space News TV.

VIDEO: 50 Years in Space
Scott Hubbard, of the SETI Institiute, recollects a half century of space exploration for science. Credit: Space News TV.

VIDEO: Who Owns the Next Five Decades of Space?
Bigelow Aerospace CEO Robert Bigelow discusses the future of spaceflight. Credit: Space News TV.

VIDEO ARCHIVE: Space News TV and Five Decades of Spaceflight
Click here for more video interviews on the past, present and future of spaceflight from Space News TV.


Spaceflight History Resources

Triumph and Tragedy: NASA's Five Decades of Bold Space Exploration
Space has always been infinitely wondrous and frustrating. A few centuries ago it was entirely misunderstood. Just five decades ago it remained inaccessible, little more than a dream generator. Now its nearest reaches are partly conquered.

Sputnik 1: The Satellite That Started It All
Sounding more like a mechanical cricket chirping from high above, it was the beep heard 'round the world.

Greatest Space Events of the 20th Century: The 50s
In this first of five articles, space.com's Andrew Chaikin begins a decade-by-decade look at the 20th century's most significant developments in space.

The True Story of Laika the Dog
On November 3, 1957, the U.S.S.R. stunned the world with a space sensation -- the launch of Sputnik 2 with a live dog on-board. But many details of what happened to the mission have only recently been revealed.

Space History Milestone: Sputnik 1 Launch
A tiny sphere traveled beyond the atmosphere and orbited the globe. And in the process it changed the world.

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