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Sputnik: 50 years since its successful launch

Oct 04, 2007 11:33 AM IST India India
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New Delhi: On October 4, 1957 the world witnessed the successful launch of the first-ever artificial satellite. The Russians put the first man-made object in outer space and it was called the Sputnik. By doing so man had broken the biggest natural barrier but little did people realise the significance of the event that was to start a never ending 'space race'. "However unpleasant it might sound, the Cold War period stimulated the development of space and satellite technology. If we would have lived as peacefully as today or our life had been as stable as it is today, without any fear that someone might attack, then we would not have put so much money into space technology development,” says Sputnik, designer, Boris Chertok. It was a wake up call for the US as suddenly the Americans didn't feel safe knowing that a Soviet machine was flying over their heads seven times a day. And it was this paranoia that eventually led to formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA a year later. The second and a bigger shock was to come four years later when the Soviets announced victory by placing the first man, Yuri Gagarin, in space. However, the Americans were not giving up just yet as the Cold War heated up so did the stakes. And NASA accomplished what many couldn't even dream about on July 21, 1969 as the first man stepped on moon. The players may have changed but the game remains the same. So after moon it is destination Mars now and it is only a matter of time before we conquer the red planet.