October 04, 1957 : Soviet Union launches Sputnik I

Introduction

The successful launch of the unmanned satellite Sputnik I by the Soviet Union in October 1957 shocks and frightens many Americans. As the tiny satellite orbited the earth, Americans reacted with dismay that the Soviets could have gotten so far ahead of the supposedly technologically superior United States. There was also fear that with their new invention, the Soviets had gained the upper hand in the arms race. In addition, such a show of technological prowess could only help the USSR in its efforts to achieve closer economic and political relations with third world nations in Africa and Asia.

Democrats scorched the Republican administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower for allowing the United States to fall so far behind the communists. Eisenhower responded by speeding up the U.S. space program, which resulted in the launching of the satellite Explorer I on January 31, 1958. The “space race” had begun.

Article Details:

October 04, 1957 : Soviet Union launches Sputnik I

  • Author

    History.com Staff

  • Website Name

    History.com

  • Year Published

    2009

  • Title

    October 04, 1957 : Soviet Union launches Sputnik I

  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviet-union-launches-sputnik-i

  • Access Date

    December 12, 2017

  • Publisher

    A+E Networks