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Sputnik 1, Earth's First Artificial Satellite in Photos

Meet Sputnik 1

Ullstein image via Getty

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

NSSDC, NASA

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

NASA

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

Blastoff!

Sovfoto/UIG via Getty

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

Sputnik Heads to Space

Novosti

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.

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