SOURCE: Quest: The History of Spaceflight

October 04, 2007 10:05 ET

Sputnik's 50th Anniversary Celebrated in Quest

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 4, 2007) - The launch of Sputnik represents a pivotal moment in the history of humanity, yet very little has been written about it.

In October 2007, the journal "Quest: The History of Spaceflight" will release a special issue entirely focused on the launch of the Sputnik satellite and the beginnings of the space race.

Featuring articles from leading space historians Dr. Roger Launius (Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum), Cargill Hall (historian emeritus of the National Reconnaissance Office), Dr. Asif Siddiqi (a Soviet space program expert), and Matt Bille and Erika Lishock (authors of the acclaimed book, "The First Space Race"), the issue is designed to give a range of perspectives and commentary on how the Sputnik launch generated diverse reactions that led to the United States and Soviet Union competing for space supremacy as well as provide the reader with rare, behind-the-scenes discussions from inside the Eisenhower administration.

Over the past 50 years, the historical perspective has evolved, as has the debate to whether the Soviet Union beat the U.S. to orbit or if it was part of a clever strategy to meet U.S. intelligence gathering needs. Were future U.S. space efforts in spite of, or because of, Eisenhower administration policies?

On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union put into orbit a small spacecraft called Sputnik. Although capable of only emitting a series of beeps as it circled the Earth, it was the first artificial satellite to do so. It lasted for 22 days until its batteries wore out. During that time people looked to the sky or listed on ham radios to hear its beep. While the Soviet government reaped the propaganda value of this scientific achievement it was met with a speech from U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson on how this was a dangerous action that put us all at risk of nuclear attack.

"No matter how it is viewed, the story of Sputnik and its political and scientific ramifications is a fascinating story," says Scott Sacknoff, publisher of Quest. "The intrigue rivals that of the story of Apollo 13 or the impact of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon; where no matter how much you read, you remain captivated."

Published since 1992, Quest is available via the bookstore. Additional information, including a bibliography of past issues, can be found at

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