National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Missions
Sputnik
Missions to Explore Earth
 By Target   By Name   By Decade 
Beyond Our Solar System Our Solar System Sun Mercury Venus Moon Earth Mars Dwarf Planets Dwarf Planets Dwarf Planets Asteroids Comets Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Kuiper Belt
 
 Past 
 Present 
 Future 
 Concepts 
Sputnik
Sputnik Mission to Earth

Goals: Sputnik was the opening shot in the space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The basketball-sized spacecraft was the world's first artificial satellite. It orbited the Earth sending back a beeping signal for 23 days.

Accomplishments: Sputnik created shockwaves back on Earth. It was an amazing technical achievement followed only a month later by the stunning launch of Sputnik II, which carried the first living thing - Laika the dog - into space. The U.S. responded in January 1958 with the launch of Explorer 1. Another American response to Sputnik: The creation of NASA in October 1958.


Key Dates
4 Oct 1957:  Launch
4 Jan 1958:  Re-entered Earth's Atmosphere
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Sputnik Facts Sputnik was about the size of a basketball. It weighed only 83 kg (183 pounds).

Sputnik orbited the Earth every 98 minutes sending back a beeping signal for 23 days.

Sputnik's designer, Sergei Korolev (above), went on to head Russia's Vostok, Voskhod, Zond and Kosmos programs.

NASA was created as a direct result of the Sputnik surprise.
Science & Technology Features
Headlines
4 Oct 2007: 
3 Oct 2007: 
4 Oct 2004: 
Links
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 1 Dec 2010