MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. The global community is commemorating 60 years on Wednesday since the space era took off. On this date, six decades ago, October 4, 1957, the world’s first artificial earth satellite was launched by the Soviet Union.
Work to create the groundbreaking man-made earth satellite had been conducted in the Soviet Union since the beginning of the 1950s. At the same time, Special Design Bureau No.1 headed by Sergey Korolev was working on a detailed design for a two-stage ballistic missile - the future R-7 intercontinental missile - that could potentially take the satellite into space.
The first artificial earth satellite was launched on October 4, 1957, at 22:28 Moscow time from the Scientific Research Test Range No.5 (later named the Baikonur Cosmodrome) of the USSR Defense Ministry by the converted R-7 ballistic missile. The space vehicle was named "Sputnik-1." In order to keep the indexes of the ballistic missile undisclosed, it was also named "Sputnik."
The flight of the first satellite lasted 92 days, until January 4, 1958, when it left the orbit and burned up in the dense atmosphere. The flight’s course went along an elliptic orbit with an apogee (the farthest point from the Earth) of 954 km and a perigee (the nearest point to the Earth) of 288 km. The Sputnik-1 completed 1,440 orbits around the Earth and covered about 60 mln km.