The first artificial Earth satellite in the world is launched in USSR

4 October 1957

A titanic work of Soviet rocket constructors preceded the flight of the first artificial Earth satellite. Headed by the founder of practice astronautics S.P. Korolev, the following scientists had worked on creation of the artificial Earth satellite: M.V. Keldysh, M.K. Tihonravov, N.S. Lidorenko, V.I. Lapko, B.S. Tchekunov, etc.

The projecting moved fast and the parts were made almost at the same time as they were designed. The satellite was being constructed as simple as possible but at the same time safe and meant to accomplish a series of scientific researches.

On October 4, 1957 at 22.28 p.m. Moscow time the Russian carrier rocket P-7 (‘Sputnik-1’) was launched from the 5th scientific and research firing ground of the Defense Ministry of the USSR that later was openly named Baikonur. It put on the orbit of Earth the first artificial Earth satellite in the world.

This day is by right considered the beginning of space era of the humanity who managed for the first time to overcome the Earth’s attraction. Three hundred years after its calculation by Newton the first space speed was now firstly achieved by the creation of human intellect and hands. Russian word ‘sputnik’ had instantly assimilated in languages all around the world.

The first satellite in human history existed as a space body relatively not for a long time – up to January 4, 1958, having made 1440 turns around the Earth (about 60 million km)  and its radio transmitters had functioned during two weeks after its launch.

Foreign journalists had been writing that ‘it was a worldwide shock’ and had called the launching of the satellite by Soviet Union ‘not only a significant scientific achievement but also one of the greatest events in the history of the whole world’. Owing to the first Soviet satellites the world science has received new knowledge of the great principal significance about higher layers of Earth’s atmosphere and space.

In honor to the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite in the world, in 1964 there was constructed a 99 meters high obelisk ‘To space conquerors’ in a form of a rocket at the moment of its launch with a fire trail behind it. It was placed in Moscow, on Mira Avenue.

On October 4, 2007, on the 50th anniversary of satellite’s launching, the monument to the first artificial Earth satellite was opened in the town of Korolev.

Lit.: Александров С. Г., Фёдоров Р. Е. Советские спутники и космические корабли. М., 1961; О запуске Первого искусственного спутника Земли в СССР [Электронный ресурс] // Николай Степанович Лидоренко. К 90-летию со дня рождения. 2005–2017. URL.:

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Outer Space: [digital collection].