October 4, 1957: Sputnik Launches into Space

On this day in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. This launch marked the beginning of the Space Race, where the United States and the Soviet Union competed rapidly to develop new space technology.

Explore NOVA’s Space Race  timeline for an interactive look at the heated competition between the two nations. 

Photo: The world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 was a 183-pound beach ball-sized sphere that took about 98 minutes to orbit Earth (NASA).