1957-1960

July 30, 1955. The US announces they would try to launch an artificial satellite to orbit Earth in 1957, the International Geophysical year. 4 days later, the URSS announced they would also try to do it in the near future. But the Soviet Space Program had that target from 7 months before that, when chief rochet scientist Sergei Korolev proposed Dimitri Ustinov that same idea. A year later, the Soviet Parliament approved the idea of creating a satellite to orbit our planet. Korolev presented a flight trajectory to the Moon to the head of the Comission responsible for the R-7 rocket test flight and decided to design a 3-stage rocket for satellite launches. The first satellite, called ‘Object D’ would have a mass of 1000-1400 kg, 200 of which being scientific instruments. Its first test flight would be on 1957, the original target date, although actual Sputnik 1 was much lighter than ‘Object D’ and had no more instruments than  a 51 kg battery and a 1-watt radio transmittors which emitted  20005 and 40002 MhZ which radio amateurs on Earth coud hear like a ‘beep’. The transmittor worked for 22 days before the battery ran out. Even the R-7 rocket core stage was visible from the surface. Although the satellite had no instruments on it, scientists could collect data from it by watching its orbit decay and, thus, calculate the drag and the atmospheric pressure in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). It was launched on October 4, 1957 from an 8K71PS rocket from the Baikanur Cosmodrome in Kazahstan. It aimed for a 223*1450 km orbit and achieved an 223*950 km orbit. After that, Sputnik 2 launched the first living thing into arbit, the stray dog Laika, but sadly, she died in the Vostok capsule due to overheating hours after launch but the Soviet Goverment official death cause was euthanasia commited prior to oxygen depletion. This was made to check if complex life forms could survive microgravity or radiation of outer space. It was launched the 40th aniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution because of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. A more advanced satellite was planned but it would launch too late so Sputnik 2 was born. Korolev upgraded the R-7 to launch 400 kg to the moon, so the government funded the Luna  programme (named after the Latin name for Moon) to launch unmanned probes to the Moon. The first probe, imaginatively called Luna 1 missed the Moon and the Luna 2 probe impacted the Moon as planned. Luna 3 probe flew by the Moon and sent the first pictures of the far side of our satellite. At this point, the Soviet Space Program was thinking of a manned mission to orbit. NASA also wanted to do it but their analists already knew they couldn’t do it before the Soviet Union because of all the time to prepare the Mercury rocket.