Sputnik 1 Becomes the First Satellite in Space
October 4, 1957 A.D.
Author: Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, Russian Rocket Engineer
My R-7 rocket launched into orbit the world's first artificial satellite . It was an amazing sight to behold. The R-7's twenty engines discharged a storm of white fire, flame, thunder, and smoke. Two minutes later its boosters separated and it disappeared into the Russian midnight. The second stage of the launch vehicle, blasted for another 150 seconds as it propelled Sputnik northeast, inclined 65 degrees to the equator. After a few moments more, Sputnik was released from the rocket and would beep periodically with its four antennas as it orbited the world at seventeen thousand miles an hour.
As I think back to all the things that have made this possible, it fascinates me. Tsiolkovsky built the theoretical foundations of high altitude rocketry in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And today is coincidentally the one hundredth anniversary of his birthday! The V-2 that Germany developed under Wernher von Braun's direction helped us design the R-1 after we had invaded Germany and captured and studied its rocket. And also, the R-7 launching already failed six times and had been cancelled by premier Khrushchev. But I disobeyed those orders, launched the first satellite, and possibly saved the Russian space program.
It seems probable that now the Americans will start to invest more in this competition. I look forward to the funding that will be directed to my rocket program.