Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik Day (and Space Carnival 22)

Sputnik 1 in Orbit Sep 10-4-57
The Space Age started with a bang 50 years ago with the launch of Sputnik 1. The Space Review has published a special edition today focused on Sputnik. One thing I didn't realize was that while Sputnik itself was small and quite difficult to see from the ground, many people reported seeing it as a very bright and flickering object. But what they actually saw was the separated upper stage of the booster which had also achieved orbit. It was quite large and was not stabilized so it tumbled and flashed in the sunlight during its three month orbital lifetime. The picture (from Orbiter) shows Sputnik shortly after separation from the upper stage seen in the background.

I'm also happy to report that Carnival of Space #22 has launched today over at Advanced Nanotechnology. While it includes two articles inspired by Sputnik, the others cover a wide range of space related subjects, reflecting the diversity of space flight as a human endeavor fifty years out of the starting gate.

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