Monday January 27, 2020

Happy birthday, Sputnik 1: the metal ball that kicked off the space race

Without the Soviet innovation in 1957, we would not have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landings this year

Emmet Ryan

Technology Correspondent

@emmetjryan
3rd October, 2019
Soviet technician working on sputnik 1, 1957. (Photo by: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In a year when we have celebrated all things to do with space exploration, it’s worth noting that tomorrow is the anniversary of the event that really got things going.

Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957 by the Soviet Union, taking the space race from concept to reality.

By current standards, it is a pathetic piece of kit. The metal sphere with trailing antennae weighed 83.6kg, roughly Brian O’Driscoll’s weight in his playing days,...

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