How are satellites sent into space

Sputnik - more than just a satellite

26/09/20178411 views22 likes

Sixty years ago, Sputnik, the first satellite in space, flew into space. He was followed by the dog Laika, Yuri Gagarin and the first spacewalker Alexei Leonov. A long line of Soviet space legends. Sputnik was more than just a satellite. He heralded the "space race" between the Soviet Union and the USA.

A satellite as simple as possible


The private museum of the Russian state space company, today RKK Energija, is a treasure trove of Soviet space pioneers. Back then, the company built the world's first satellite, Sputnik 1. In the museum

hangs one of the original type 1 replacement Sputniks built in 1957. Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, decorated hero of the Russian Federation, tells how the first satellite should be: simple but effective. "After the first successful launches of the R7 rocket, the simplest possible Sputnik should be sent into space - without scientific equipment, but simply with batteries, a heat regulation system and a transmitter."

Sputnik started on October 4, 1957 and orbited the earth in 98 minutes. He carried a simple signal from Russia to the world. Roskosmos General Director Igor Komarov: "I think it was really emotionally important for the Soviet people because it was a significant breakthrough. The proof of technological progress, the proof of the success of all the programs that were running at the time, under the leadership of Sergei Korolyov and other scientists. Together they managed to build a space industry that is a world leader in many areas. "

The Sputnik shock


The news plunged the West into Sputnik shock - they became aware of the advances in Soviet space technology and the ranges of Soviet missiles. Former Scientific Director of ESA Roger-Maurice Bonnet: "It was a significant event, it was the beginning of the space race. And it was the Soviets, nobody had expected that. People had believed that the Americans would be, who then followed only a little later, but it was a shock everywhere in the western capitals to know that the Soviets could do something like this. "

Historian John Krige of the Georgia Institute of Technology: "Sputnik was incredibly important because it started the space race between the US and the Soviet Union. People often misunderstand its importance because they think it was just a satellite. But that The decisive threat was the missile that launched it. An intercontinental missile that the Soviet Union had developed and tested for the first time a month earlier. And for the first time in its recent history the United States felt threatened. "

Sputnik 2 with Laika on board


The designer Korolev and his colleagues let no time pass. Less than a month later they started the much heavier Sputnik 2 with the dog Laika on board. The first living being in space - even if it died of overheating a few hours after take-off because the cooling units failed.

The ambition remained unbroken: the first spacewalker, Alexei Leonow, recalls: "Sergei Pavlovich Korolev wanted to build a manned spacecraft that was to be launched with a Vostok rocket, the successor to the R7 that carried the first Sputnik. They started one Study for the selection of a crew from the ranks of the fighter jet test pilots. In 1959 we were already in the first group for the tests. "

And cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri emphasizes: "The government issued a program for the future exploration of the universe. In this document they mentioned space probes going to the moon, flights to Mars and Venus, they mentioned space flights with people, they talked about people who step on Mars, on Venus and the moon, and set up stations there. I just want to point this out to you: That was in December 1959! "

And so began a long series of Soviet premieres: the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first space walk, the first (unmanned) moon landing - the first soft landing on Venus and on Mars. The Americans only caught up with their moon landing in 1969, which was watched worldwide on television, and the space race was drawing to a close.

Cooperation instead of competition


The legacy of the Soviet space legends endures to this day. Every cosmo- and astronaut who sets off for the International Space Station starts from the same spaceport in Baikonur as Sputnik. The Russian space agency Roskosmos has many new projects, including the new generation spacecraft Federazija and the future spaceport Vostochny, "the Eastern", in eastern Russia. Today it is less about competition than about cooperation with ESA and NASA, confirms Roskosmos boss Komarow: "I think that today it is not so important in which area we are the first. What matters is what goals we set ourselves with our partners . I mean these really important missions that help us achieve breakthroughs. This includes ExoMars, the second stage of which we want to usher in 2020. We are now in the active preparation phase. I also mean missions to the moon, with which we explore the lunar environment in more detail and build a station there that can be visited and inhabited. "

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