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The Space conquest began with the launching of the first artificial satellite : Spoutnik1 (see photo) was placed in orbit by the USSR on October 4th 1957 (Spoutnik mean " companion ").

First artificial satellite
Spoutnik1 was a sphere made of aluminium, with 58 cm in diameter and it weighed 83 Kg It was turning round the Earth in a bit more than 96 minutes following an elliptic orbit of 947 Km at apogee and 228 Km at perigee. It desintagrated entering the atmosphere in january, 4th 1958.

To know every thing about SPOUTNIK :

It was followed on November 3rd 1957 ,by Spoutnik2, a 508kg weight engine taking on board the first living creature sent into space the bitch " Laīka "which remained alive one week. SPOUTNIK 2
burned after entering in atmosphere on April 14th 1958,

As Spoutnik 2 was still in orbit , the USA launched their first satellite EXPLORER 1, from Cap Canaveral in Florida, on January 31st 1958. Explorer 1, had 15 cm in diameter, 203 cm long and 14 Kg cylindrical object, transmitted on a 112 days period measurements about cosmic rays and micro meteorites, which have led particularly to the discovery of radiation belts ( Van Allen's belts).

On March 17th 1958, The USA launched their second satellite , VANGUARD 1, which had 16 cm in diameter and only 1.5 Kg; a very small satellite (it was so called " grapefruit", because of its size) . The precise study on its orbit modification revealed that the Earth's curvature was not regular ; It was the first satellite equiped with solar panels, it had been able to work thanks to this energy during more than six years. (doc MICROSOFT))

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