Document Title: "Announcement of the First Satellite," from Pravada, October 5, 1957, F.J. Krieger, Behind the Sputniks (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1958), pp. 311-12.

Source: Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

On 4 October 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first earth orbiting satellite to support the scientific research effort undertaken by several nations during the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year. The Soviets called the satellite "Sputnik" or "fellow traveler" and reported the achievement in a tersely worded press release issued by the official news agency, Tass, printed in the October 5, 1957, issue of Pravda. The United States had also been working on a scientific satellite program, Project Vanguard, but it had not yet launched a satellite.

[311] For several years scientific research and experimental design work have been conducted in the Soviet Union on the creation of artificial satellites of the earth.

As already reported in the press, the first launching of the satellites in the USSR were planned for realization in accordance with the scientific research program of the International Geophysical Year.

As a result of very intensive work by scientific research institutes and design bureaus the first artificial satellite in the world has been created. On October 4, 1957, this first satellite was successfully launched in the USSR. According to preliminary data, the carrier rocket has imparted to the satellite the required orbital velocity of about 8000 meters per second. At the present time the satellite is describing elliptical trajectories around the earth, and its flight can be observed in the rays of the rising and setting sun with the aid of very simple optical instruments (binoculars, telescopes, etc.).

According to calculations which now are being supplemented by direct observations, the satellite will travel at altitudes up to 900 kilometers above the surface of the earth; the time for a complete revolution of the satellite will be one hour and thirty-five minutes; the angle of inclination of its orbit to the equatorial plane is 65 degrees. On October 5 the satellite will pass over the Moscow area twice--at 1:46 a.m. and at 6:42 a.m. Moscow time. Reports about the subsequent movement of the first artificial satellite launched in the USSR on October 4 will be issued regularly by broadcasting stations.

The satellite has a spherical shape 58 centimeters in diameter and weighs 83.6 kilograms. It is equipped with two radio transmitters continuously emitting signals at frequencies of 20.005 and 40.002 megacycles per second (wave lengths of about 15 and 7.5 meters, respectively). The power of the transmitters ensures reliable reception of the signals by a broad range of radio amateurs. The signals have the form of telegraph pulses of about 0.3 second's duration with a [312] pause of the same duration. The signal of one frequency is sent during the pause in the signal of the other frequency.

Scientific stations located at various points in the Soviet Union are tracking the satellite and determining the elements of its trajectory. Since the density of the rarified upper layers of the atmosphere is not accurately known, there are no data at present for the precise determination of the satellite's lifetime and of the point of its entry into the dense layers of the atmosphere. Calculations have shown that owing to the tremendous velocity of the satellite, at the end of its existence it will burn up on reaching the dense layers of the atmosphere at an altitude of several tens of kilometers.

As early as the end of the nineteenth century the possibility of realizing cosmic flights by means of rockets was first scientifically substantiated in Russia by the works of the outstanding Russian scientist K[onstatin] E. Tsiolkovskii [Tsiolkovskiy].

The successful launching of the first man-made earth satellite makes a most important contribution to the treasure-house of world science and culture. The scientific experiment accomplished at such a great height is of tremendous importance for learning the properties of cosmic space and for studying the earth as a planet of our solar system.

During the International Geophysical Year the Soviet Union proposes launching several more artificial earth satellites. These subsequent satellites will be larger and heavier and they will be used to carry out programs of scientific research.

Artificial earth satellites will pave the way to interplanetary travel and, apparently our contemporaries will witness how the freed and conscientious labor of the people of the new socialist society makes the most daring dreams of mankind a reality.