The satellite that turned the United States into a minor power

Vladimir Bychkov

The Americans were shocked. They were taught that the United States is superior to the USSR in everything: it has the best scientists, gum, writers, the army and the space industry. How did the “backward” Soviet Union get ahead of America?

On October 4, 1957, the world’s first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik-1, was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

It had the shape of a ball with a diameter of 58 centimeters, four whip antennas and weighed just over 83 kilograms. The orbit was calculated so that the satellite would fly over Moscow and Washington, covering this distance in about 15 minutes. The first spacecraft completed 1440 revolutions in near-earth orbit and burned up in the atmosphere 4 months later.

In America, the launch of the satellite was regarded as “a devastating blow to the prestige of the United States.” The Americans were shocked. They were taught – and they perfectly understood the main American imperative that the United States surpasses the USSR in everything: the Americans have the best scientists, chewing gum, writers, the army and the space industry. How was the “backward” Soviet Union able to outstrip America – “the beacon of democracy and progress”?!

By the way, the scientists of the US space project were seriously concerned about something else. They said that the weight of the Soviet satellite suggests that the USSR did have an ICBM. Although the information about the Russian ICBMs in the Pentagon was called a bluff. However, ev-en here the American military did not lose: after the launch of the Soviet satellite, they immediately call-ed on the authorities to inc-rease funding for the space industry. Which was done, and increased fourfold.

And the American media staged a form of panic. Newspapers came out with screaming headlines: “The era of our self-confidence has come to an end,” “Why did the Reds launch it first?”, “The greatest victory for the Soviets.” Even “lyrical” poems of the following content have appeared:

Small Satellite flying high

With a whistle made in Moscow,

You tell the world that the sky belongs to the communists

And Uncle Sam is sleeping…

Science fiction writer Arthur Clarke even stated that on the day the Soviet satellite made its first orbit around the Earth, the United States turned into a minor power.

However, immediately, casually, some American scientists declared in the press: the Sputnik-1 apparatus is primitive, it is far from the pinnacle of technological achievements. And later the deliberate caricature of the Soviet cosmonautics will become a “trick” of Hollywood. A typical example is the movie “Armageddon”. Unshaven and neglected Russian cosmonaut, jamming vodka at the Mir station in a hat with earflaps. (It’s a pity they forgot about the bear with the balalaika).

Do you know what the Americans used to justify themselves that they were not the first? They said that, they say, President Eisenhower didn’t want the army to launch a satellite, didn’t want it to look like an act of declaring war, didn’t want space to become a place for deploying weapons… However, this is hard to believe. Or rather, I can’t believe it at all.

The Americans urgently tried to catch up. However, the rocket with the satellite “Avangard TV3” on December 6, 1957 exploded two seconds after launch. American newspapers reacted to this with sad but humor. They renamed their troubled “Vanguard” to Kaputnik, combining the German words kaputt and sputnik.

Stephen King recalled with what horror the news of the launch of Sputnik 1 was perceived in the American provinces:

“I was ten years old, I was in the cinema… At the most intriguing moment, the screen went out. The cinema was packed, but, strangely enough, everyone was quiet. The manager stepped onto the stage and raised his hand, asking for silence. I want to inform you. you, “he began,” that the Russians had put a space satellite into orbit around the Earth. They called it… “satellite.” “Let’s show a movie, liar!”… We were told that we are the greatest nation on Earth and that any outlaw from behind the Iron Curtain who tries to attack us in the huge saloon of foreign policy will find out who has the fastest revolver in the West “.

Probably, it was after this trash that the gradual transformation of Stephen King into “It” – the Hollywood “king of horrors” began.

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