Looking Back on 50 Years of Spaceflight

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

Sputnik 1, asmall beeping ball with four long antennas, became the first artificialsatellite to orbit, ushering in the Space Age and launching a race to the moonbetween the former Soviet Union and the U.S.

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

  • TIMELINE:50 Years of Spaceflight
  • AnniversaryStories
  • Multimedia
  • Video
  • SpaceflightHistory Resources


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

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

Secretsof 1957 Sputnik Launch Revealed
Fifty yearsafter Sputnik's launch, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from beingpart of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over theWest.

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

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


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

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

Top 10 Soviet andRussian Space Missions
Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, haslong been at the forefront of the space frontier, beginning 50 years ago withthe historic Oct. 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik - the world's first artificialsatellite. Here is a rundown of the ten top Russian space missions from thedrawing board to realization.

Votefor Your Favorite Manned Spacecraft
Cast your vote for the best of10 different piloted spacecraft through the ages.

Lunar Legacy: TheBest of the Moon
Vote nowfor your favorite views of the moon.

SpaceMilestones in Song
Start the countdownand cue the music.


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 ofspaceflight. First of a Two-Part Interview with Lon Rains. Credit: Space NewsTV.

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

VIDEO:50 Years in Space
Scott Hubbard, of the SETI Institiute, recollects a half century of spaceexploration 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 andFive Decades of Spaceflight
Click herefor more video interviews on the past, present and future of spaceflight fromSpace News TV.

SpaceflightHistory Resources

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

Sputnik1: The Satellite That Started It All
Soundingmore like a mechanical cricket chirping from high above, it was the beep heard'round the world.

GreatestSpace Events of the 20th Century: The 50s
Inthis first of five articles, space.com's Andrew Chaikin begins adecade-by-decade look at the 20th century's most significantdevelopments in space.

The True Storyof Laika the Dog
OnNovember 3, 1957, the U.S.S.R. stunned the world with a space sensation -- thelaunch of Sputnik 2 with a live dog on-board. But many details of what happenedto the mission have only recently been revealed.

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

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