Sputnik 1, Earth's First Artificial Satellite in Photos

Ullstein image via Getty

Each year, the first week of October kicks off the United Nation's World Space Week, which celebrates the world's achievements in space since the dawn of the Space Age on Oct. 4, 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. Find out how to celebrate World Space Week 2020 here.

Read on below to see photos of Sputnik and its legacy!

Top image: The Soviet Union successfully launched the Sputnik 1 satellite on Oct. 4, 1957, surprising the world and kicking off the space race. This was the first human-made satellite. Its name means "traveling companion" in Russian.

Earth's 1st Artifical Satellite


The 183-pound (83-kilogram) spacecraft whipped around the Earth every 98 minutes, transmitting a series of beeps.

Working on Sputnik 1

Sovfoto/UIG via Getty

A Soviet technician works on Sputnik 1 before the satellite's Oct. 4, 1957 launch.

Sputnik 1

Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty

Sputnik was in the form of a sphere, 23 inches (58 centimeters) in diameter and pressurized with nitrogen.

Exploded View

NASA History Program Office

This exploded view of the Sputnik 1 satellite reveals what its insides look like. [Sputnik: How the World's 1st Artificial Satellite Worked (Infographic)]

Sputnik's Four Antennas

Sovfoto/UIG via Getty

Four radio antennas trailed behind the spacecraft's spherical body. These ensured that the satellite transmitted radio signals equally in all directions regardless of its rotation. Two of them were 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) long, and the other two were 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) long.

Sputnik Launch Cake

Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Soviet scientist Leonid Sedov, who created the Sputnik 1, helps to cut a rocket-shaped cake at the International Astronautical Conference in Barcelona a few days after the satellite launched in October of 1957.

Sputnik 1 on the Pad


The Sputnik 1 satellite launched on a rocket of a similar name: Sputnik-PS.


Sovfoto/UIG via Getty

Sputnik 1 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 4, 1957.

Sputnik Heads to Space


The launch of Sputnik 1 didn't go entirely to plan. Because the booster didn't reach full power during liftoff, Sputnik ended up orbiting about 310 miles (500 km) lower than it was designed to go.

Sputnik 1's Orbit

Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Sputnik 1 orbited the Earth for 21 days, circling around the globe every 96.2 minutes. The orbit of Sputnik 1 is traced on globe designed by NASA engineer Robert Farquhar.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Space.com Staff
News and editorial team

Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.