I was only two years old at the time, so I don't remember the awe and fear that occurred fifty years ago tomorrow when the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. But that day set the tone for the era I grew up in and, as for many, influenced my calling in life. I've been blessed that my lifetime has seen the first tentative moves by humanity to expand beyond our planetary womb. This time will be remembered by future generations who will benefit from access to the immense resources of space.
Too many commentaries and reminiscences have have been published over the last few days to have time to read, much less link to. One unique view is shared by Sergei Khrushchev, son of the Soviet leader at the time of Sputnik.
Fifty years ago, on October 4 1957, my father, the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, was waiting for a call from Kazakhstan: the designer, Sergei Korolev, was due to report on the launch of the world's first satellite. My father was in Ukraine, on military business, and that evening he dined with Ukrainian leaders. I sat at the end of the table, not paying attention to their conversation. Around midnight my father was asked to take a phone call. When he came back, he was smiling: Sputnik's launch had been successful.
Space.com looks at the the legacy Sputnik left for science and the future of technology and private enterprise in space. Check out SpaceToday.net for numerous other articles on the Sputnik anniversary and look for a special edition at the Space Review Thursday morning.
UPDATE: Thur., Oct. 4: Clark Lindsey has lists of Sputnik links here and here. Rand Simberg's compilation is here. Finally, tonight I observed (and toasted) a high elevation pass over the DC area of the International Space Station (ISS), staffed by Russians and Americans together on this historic space anniversary.