Sputnik: 50 Years, One Month, Two Weeks Later

Monday 10 December 2007

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It looked like no more than an oversized grapefruit with whiskers. So you wonder what all the fuss was about. But the small silver ball kicked into orbit by the Soviets in 1957 set off a decades-long space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. That race resulted in major accomplishments during the fifty years since Sputnik’s spunky spin, including landing humans on the moon.

Meet the new space race(s). Private companies are gearing up to go where only governments have gone before, and the launch of a Chinese lunar probe signals a new turf war over Earth’s natural satellite. We’ll hear these stories, plus meet a “Sputnut” who owns two copies of the pioneering orb and is looking forward to a Sputnik-eye-view of Earth as a passenger on board the International Space Station next fall.

Also, why the space elevator biz is looking up.

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