Today marks the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1.
It was the world's first artificial satellite and though it only operated for 92 days and didn't carry any scientific equipment, it's launch triggered the 'Sputnik crisis' which in turn sparked the Space Race between the Soviet Union and America.
We speak to Auckland University's resident space man Professor Jim Hefkey.
If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Oct 4, 2017 20:48:00 GMT 12
from The Washington Post....
On October 4, 1957, the Soviets shocked the world with a shiny metal ball: Sputnik
Washington D.C. reacted to first satellite with gloom, excitement — and sales on binoculars.
By JOHN KELLY | 1:06PM EDT - Tuesday, October 03, 2017
The first official picture of Sputnik, released on October 9th, 1957, shows the four-antennaed Soviet satellite resting on a three-legged pedestal. — Photograph: Zentralbild Picture Service/Associated Press.
SIXTY YEARS AGO on Wednesday, a shiny metal ball weighing 184 pounds was hurled into space. It had always been a matter of when, not if, humans would launch something into orbit. The surprise to many Americans was that it was the Soviet Union that got there first. The orb was called Sputnik, Russian for “fellow traveler of Earth”.
In the official announcement of their feat, the Soviets proclaimed that “artificial Earth satellites will pave the way for space travel and it seems that the present generation will witness how the freed and conscious labor of the people of the new socialist society turns even the most daring of man's dreams into reality.”
For many in Washington, the reality was more nightmare than dream. All Sputnik could do was beep, but who knew what later satellites would be capable of? Spying on us? Dropping nuclear bombs?
And so, the mood in Washington was grim, with lots of finger-pointing among politicians, military leaders and scientists. Sputnik, some said, was a second Pearl Harbor in the way it caught America unawares.
In a special Outlook section devoted to the Russian achievement, The Washington Post's Chalmers M. Roberts wrote, “That beep-beep meant that the United States could no longer proclaim the supremacy of its industrial machine or of the capitalist free system of economics — could no longer proclaim it, that is, without the most serious doubts and challenges from many men in many lands.”
Especially galling: When Moscow Radio noted the times that Sputnik would be passing over various cities — useful information for amateur skywatchers — it tweaked the United States by including Little Rock, where a bitter school integration fight was underway.
Sputnik's place in the heavens inspired religious figures to sermonize. The Sunday after the launch, the sermon at the Union Methodist Church on 20th Street NW was “God and the Russian Satellite”. At the College Park Unitarian Church, it was “Immaturity About a Baby Moon”.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Clough of Grace Baptist Church titled his sermon “The Russian Satellite and Prophecy”. The pastor used biblical quotations to back up his belief that the satellite meant Christ would come again, and soon.
“Don't be surprised, my friends, if He comes today,” Clough said.
(As it happened, He did not.)
While some Washingtonians pondered Sputnik's effect on the soul, others focused on its effect on the wallet. Merchants capitalized on satellite mania.
MGM started advertising its Robby the Robot movie “The Invisible Boy” — showing at the Capitol Theatre downtown — as “hot from the satellite headlines!!!”
Irving's sporting goods at 10th and E streets NW advertised powerful binoculars that were “ideal for all sports, birdwatching, satellite watching and other activities!” They were on sale for half-price: $12.49c.
Some satellite wagon-jumping seemed a bit forced. The Storm Sash Discount Company on S Street NW advertised storm and screen windows for $8.88c each, installation included. They called this “the new satellite combination”.
In their ad, the developers of the Rock Creek Hills development noted that “launching a satellite is a simple matter in comparison to finding a brick rambler so lovely and charming as we have here.” What they had here — in Kensington, Maryland — was a three-bedroom, two-bath home, with screened porch and two-car garage, for $42,500.
Take that, Commies.
Jones, Kreeger & Hewitt, a D.C. investment firm, invited readers of The Washington Post to write in for a free brochure listing which U.S. companies were engaged in missile projects. Why? “Now that the Russians have successfully launched an earth satellite ahead of the U.S., we will undoubtedly accelerate our entire missile program.”
In other words, there was money to be made.
Not so fast, urged Bache & Company, another brokerage: “We believe investors should be cautious in this speculative field … should constantly reappraise their aircraft-missile stocks they hold.” They were happy to offer advice from their offices in the Hotel Washington.
The first confirmed Washington D.C.-area sighting of Sputnik — or of the spent rocket stage that had launched it — was on October 12th by G.R. Wright of Piping Rock Road in Colesville, Maryland. The Weather Bureau scientist looked at it through an eight-power field telescope.
The Indian ambassador, G.L. Mehta, saw it from the embassy garden at 2700 Macomb Street NW. Robert Smith, a ninth-grader at the District's Alice Deal Junior High, saw it on his Washington Post delivery route.
Ensign Roy A. Norman tried to catch a glimpse from a Safeway parking lot in Congress Heights but was stopped by police. “I was carrying a telescope and it might have looked like a gun,” he told The Post.
Area teachers noted that students had become obsessed with Sputnik, though sometimes in unexpected ways. A Washington Post reporter witnessed a 6-year-old muttering “Sputnik!” after he'd stubbed his toe. A new profanity had entered the lexicon.
On October 26th, Sputnik's radio signal went silent. Its battery was dead. On January 4th, 1958, it fell to Earth. The artificial moon had circled our planet 1,440 times.
Plenty of satellites would follow — men and women, too — but Sputnik would always be the first.
• John Kelly writes “John Kelly's Washington”, a daily look at Washington D.C.'s less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Washington Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. Since then, he's edited Weekend, founded KidsPost and been a general assignment reporter in Metro. John is a graduate of Rockville High School and the University of Maryland and has done journalism fellowships at Harvard and Oxford. He once washed Julia Child's dirty dishes. In his spare time John plays drums in Washington's second-best Monkees cover band.
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Oct 4, 2017 21:59:42 GMT 12
from The Washington Post....
60 years after Sputnik, Russian space program faces troubles
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV | 2:10AM EDT - Wednesday, October 04, 2017
A Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying Lomonosov, Aist-2D and SamSat-218 satellites lifts off from the launch pad at the new Vostochny Cosmodrome outside the city of Uglegorsk, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far eastern Amur region, Russia on Thursday, April 28th, 2016. Six decades after Sputnik opened the space era, Russia has struggled to build up on its Soviet-era space achievements and space research now ranks very low among the Kremlin's priorities. — Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/Associated Press.
MOSCOW — Six decades after Sputnik, a refined version of the rocket that put the first artificial satellite in orbit remains the mainstay of Russia’s space program — a stunning tribute to the country's technological prowess, but also a sign that it has failed to build upon its achievements.
And unlike the Cold War era when space was a key area of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, space research now appears to rank low on the Kremlin's priorities.
The Soyuz booster, currently the only vehicle that launches crews to the International Space Station, is a modification of the R-7 rocket that put Sputnik in orbit on October 4th 1957.
Another Soviet-designed workhorse, the heavy-lift Proton rocket that has been used to launch commercial satellites to high orbits, was developed in the 1960s.
Both rockets established a stellar reputation for their reliability, but their record was tarnished by a string of failed launches in recent years that called into question the Russian space industry's ability to maintain the same high standards of manufacturing.
Glitches found in Proton and Soyuz in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh that builds engines for both rockets. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a year-long break in Proton launches.
The suspension eroded the nation's niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches. Last year, Russia for the first time fell behind both the U.S. and China in the number of launches.
Clients have increasingly opted for new, more efficient and affordable choices, such as the Falkon 9 built by SpaceX, which broke ground in reducing costs by making its rockets reusable.
Russian officials have recognized the challenge posed by SpaceX and others, but they have offered few specifics on how the nation hopes to retain its place in the global market. The only short-term answer appears to be a plan to manufacture a less-powerful version of the Proton booster to lower costs.
In an astonishing recognition of the depth of Russia's space woes, Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov declared earlier this week that the Voronezh factory used substandard alloys because of a logistical failure that occurred after a warehouse worker had become ill.
The Khrunichev company that assembles the Proton also has fallen on hard times amid criminal investigations into alleged mismanagement and a decision to sharply cut its assets. Much of the prized real estate it occupies in western Moscow has been designated for development.
Meanwhile, the development of the Angara, a booster rocket intended to replace both the Soyuz and the Proton, has been repeatedly pushed back, and its future remains uncertain. More expensive and lacking the long-established track record of its predecessors, the Angara probably will find it hard to compete with SpaceX rockets and others in the international market.
The first tests of the Angara have been successful, but full-scale production is yet to be organized at a plant in the Siberian city of Omsk.
And while the Soyuz is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the ISS following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet, Russia stands to lose the monopoly soon as the SpaceX's Dragon v2 and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules are set to fly test missions next year.
Work on a new spacecraft intended to replace the Soyuz crew capsule designed 50 years ago has crawled slowly. The ship, called Federatsiya — Federation — is tentatively set for its first manned flight in 2023, but little is known about its features and functionality.
Roscosmos also has talked about sending several unmanned missions to the moon in the next decade, but details are yet to be worked out. Attempts to send unmanned probes to Mars in 1996 and one of the Martian moons, Phobos, in 2011 failed due to equipment problems.
Russia also has struggled for years to build its own scientific module for the International Space Station. Originally set for 2007, the launch of the Nauka, or Science, module has been pushed back repeatedly, and a 2013 check revealed that its systems had become clogged with residue and required a costly cleaning. The launch is now tentatively set for next year, but some reports suggest it could be delayed further.
Amid funding shortages, Roscosmos has decided to cut the size of its ISS crews from three to two, a move criticized by many in Russia.
“It's very bad when we have to cut the number of cosmonaut seats,” cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya said in parliament earlier this year. “The situation in our space industry is quite alarming.”
While other space programs faced cutbacks, Russia spent billions of dollars to build the new Vostochny launch pad in the far east as a possible alternative to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan that Moscow has leased from its former Soviet neighbor.
Many questioned the feasibility of the expensive new facility, given the fact that Russia intends to continue using Baikonur for most of its launches.
Work at Vostochny has been dogged by scandals involving protests by unpaid workers and arrests of construction officials accused of embezzlement.
A launchpad for Soyuz finally opened in 2016, but another one for heavier Angara rockets is only set to be completed in late 2021.
Amid massive spending on Vostochny, whose future remains unclear, some have criticized Roscosmos for cutting corners on personnel.
Cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, who now serves as a lawmaker, lamented poor conditions for future space crews at the Star City training center outside Moscow.
“It's wrong when instead of fulfilling their task to prepare for space flight they have to find side jobs and a place to live,” Surayev said in parliament.
Several veteran cosmonauts were forced to retire earlier this year amid vicious infighting at Star City. One of the retirees was Gennady Padalka, who holds the world record for the longest time in orbit — 878 days over five space missions.
In a letter released to the media, Padalka urged authorities to fire the director of Star City to prevent the facility from falling into “complete ruin”.
Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Oct 4, 2017 21:59:58 GMT 12
from The Washington Post....
The launch of Sputnik 60 years ago opened space era
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV | 2:35AM EDT - Wednesday, October 04, 2017
A photo of Sergei Korolyov, the father of the Soviet space program is on display at the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow, Russia. The launch of Sputnik 60 years ago opened the space era and became a major triumph for the Soviet Union, showcasing its military might and technological edge. — Photograph: Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press.
MOSCOW — The launch of Sputnik 60 years ago opened the space era and became a major triumph for the Soviet Union, showcasing its military might and technological prowess. It also stunned the rest of the world.
Details of the development and the launch of the first artificial satellite were hidden behind the veil of secrecy that surrounded the Soviet space program and only became known decades later.
A look at some little-known facts behind the October 4th, 1957, launch of the unmanned spacecraft:
A BYPRODUCT OF THE SOVIET MISSILE PROGRAM
Amid a tense Cold War arms race with the United States, the Soviet Union focused its efforts on building the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a hydrogen bomb warhead to the U.S. The R-7 missile was built by a team led by Sergei Korolyov, and tests of the rocket began in 1957.
Korolyov, a visionary scientist and a shrewd manager at the same time, pressed the reluctant military brass to use one of the first R-7s to put a satellite in orbit. He warned Soviet leaders that the U.S. was also developing a satellite and won the Kremlin's permission for the launch.
While there already was a project for a full-fledged scientific satellite, Korolyov ordered his team of engineers to design a primitive orbiter to save time and beat the U.S. into space. The craft, which was built in only a few months, was named PS-1, for “Prosteishiy Sputnik” — the “Simplest Satellite”.
The satellite, weighing less than 84 kilograms (about 184 pounds) and slightly larger than a basketball, was a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas.
An earlier satellite project envisaged a cone-shape vehicle, but Korolyov opted for the sphere.
“The Earth is a sphere, and its first satellite also must have a spherical shape,” he was quoted as saying.
THE START OF SPACE AGE
While the rest of the world was stunned by the Soviet accomplishment, the Kremlin's leadership seemed to be slow to grasp the scope of the event.
The first official Soviet report of Sputnik's launch was brief and buried deep inside the pages of Pravda, the Communist Party's daily newspaper. Only two days after the launch did it come out with a banner headline and quotes of the foreign accolades.
LIGHT AND SOUND IN THE SKY
Sputnik contained a radio transmitter, broadcasting a distinctive “beep-beep-beep” sound.
Pravda published a description of Sputnik's orbit to help people watch it pass. However, it didn't mention that the light seen moving across the night sky was in fact the spent booster rocket's second stage, which was in roughly same orbit as the satellite. The tiny orbiter itself was invisible to the naked eye.
Sputnik orbited the Earth for three months before burning up in the atmosphere.
LEADING SPACE RACE
Thrilled by the global furor caused by Sputnik's launch, the Kremlin immediately ordered Korolyov to launch a new satellite to mark the November 7th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. His team succeeded in building a spacecraft in less than a month, and on November 3rd launched Sputnik 2, which weighed about 508 kilograms (1,120 pounds). It carried the world's first passenger, a dog named Laika. While the dog died of the heat soon after the launch, the flight proved that a living being could survive in space.
On April 12th, 1961, the Soviet Union made another giant leap ahead of the United States when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.
The Soviet lead in space prompted the U.S. to pour money into research and technology. In 1969, the U.S. won the race to land the first man on the moon, while the Soviet program collapsed in a series of booster rocket explosions.
Amid the shroud of secrecy around the Soviet rocket and space program, Korolyov was never mentioned in any contemporary accounts of the launch. His key role was known only to a small circle of senior Soviet officials and space engineers.
Korolyov was only allowed to publish the non-secret parts of his research under the pseudonym “Professor K. Sergeyev”, while Leonid Sedov, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences with no connection to space program, was erroneously praised in the West as the Father of Sputnik.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev rejected the Nobel committee's offer to nominate Sputnik's designer for a prize, insisting it was the achievement of “the entire Soviet people”.
Korolyov's daughter, Natalia, recalled later that her father sometimes felt bitter about the secrecy. “We are like miners — we work underground,” she quoted him saying. “No one sees or hears us.”