Sputnik-Korabl (Sputnik spaceships)
The Russians wanted to put a human into space. Design began and prototypes were tested with animals as guinea pigs. On August 19, two Siberian dogs Strelka and Belka became the first animals to be successfully returned to Earth. On another test flight, th
e 2 dogs Pchelka and Mushka died after their spacecraft entered orbit at the wrong angle. Yet 2 more dogs, Chernushka and Zvezdochka, went into space and returned safely. All these showed that a human could be sent into space and safely return.
First human in space
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first man to go into space and return on April 11 aboard a Vostok spacecraft. Gagarin spent 108 minutes in space, reaching a highest altitude of 327 km. Due to a lack of data on how weightlessness would affect the cont
rols, the controls of the Vostok spacecraft were locked down. Although Gagarin was merely a passenger aboard the Vostok, the flight was highly significant as it was the first time Man has ever stepped into space.
First real communications satellite
The world's first true communications satellite was a 100 foot mylar balloon launched on August 12, 1960. Echo 1 was a passive communications satellite because signals were sent from a transmitting station, bounced off Echo 1 and reflected to a receiving
station. Echo 1 remained in orbit until May 24, 1968.
First weather satellite
Launched by the Americans on April 4, TIROS (Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite) was the first weather satellite. By 1965, 9 more TIROS have been launched with better sensors to detect weather patterns.
First Navigation satellite
Transit, the first navigation satellite, was launched on April 13 and operated for 3 months. By 1968 there were 23 Transit satellites operating in circular orbits of 850km. These spacecraft far out-lived their design some lasting as long as 11 years.