Today marks the 56th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, humanity’s first artificial satellite, giving the Soviet Union (a country that has faded from the scene over the course of those past 56 years) the lead in the Space Race, which for most Americans kicked off fears of nuclear annihilation.
The US would go on to match that feat, but would continue to play second-fiddle to the USSR as it racked up credits for the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first dog in space, the first object to orbit the sun, the first man-made object on the moon, the first spacewalk, until a certain day in 1969 when it took the lead with the first man to set foot on the moon.
Ten years after Sputnik, almost to the day, the UN signed the first treaty for the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.
Space Week takes place all over the globe (NASA and Russia’s Federal Space Agency have since been joined by ESA, Japan, Brazil and a host of private ventures) with a variety of different activities, curtailed somewhat by the US Government shut-down which has shuttered most of NASA & JPL’s websites. You can find a full calendar of events on the World Space Week website.
Space is science fiction’s place. Let’s enjoy it, celebrate our achievements and push for far more!