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Video: 55 Years of Space Exploration

Yesterday marked the 55th anniversary of the Sputnik launch, which sent the first artificial satellite into orbit. It was actually a fairly small satellite, about the size of a basketball, but it had a big impact. It set in motion not only the space race, but jump-started a push for education and technology development. Thanks to the giant leap of Sputnik, we now use satellites for telecommunications, weather prediction, remote sensing, and navigation, not to mention the exploration of space.

This great video shows the notable events in the past 55 years of space exploration. It was put together by NU STARS, Northwestern University’s Space Technology and Rocketry Society

As for the history of Sputnik, you can read a great article by Amy Shira Teitel on Discovery Space News about the psychology of Sputnik, and another by Clara Moskowitz on Space.com about how Sputnik changed the world.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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  • slopez_spacegeek October 6, 2012, 12:30 AM

    They forgot the New Horizons probe on its way to Pluto. Not there yet, but well on its way. Seems pretty important considering that it will the first to travel so far, to reach a new planet for exploration. Plus then continue on into interstellar space just like? the Voyager probes.

    • Torbjörn Larsson October 6, 2012, 9:42 AM

      Pluto is interesting in its own right, but not as a first.

      – It is a Kuiper Belt Object, not a planet, and we have better insight into those than similar asteroid dwarf planets – Triton was imaged in detail by Voyager 2, Ceres has not yet been observed up close.

      – Pluto-Charon formation is similar to Earth-Moon.

      I think the main results from New Horizons will be if it can investigate several KBOs on its way out. Of course it will learn more about KBOs than Voyager 2 did just from Pluto, and it will important to elucidate the solar system formation.

      I’m just not so excited about the particular KBOs. Oh well yes, Triton is the largest KBO by far and it certainly interacted with the giant planets early to the degree it was captured, so maybe it merits special attention. But that is as far as I can take their individuality right now.

      • slopez_spacegeek October 6, 2012, 7:15 PM

        LOL, and I call myself a space geek. You’re right, Pluto is not a planet. :-) Not sure how that happened.

        When I think about all the people who’ve taken part in the whole “is Pluto a planet?” discussion with friends and colleagues and don’t even know that NH’s is on its way there. Then when those awesome pictures of Pluto and Charon show up, it’ll put a whole new perspective on the discussion. Plus what it took to get it out so far in such a reasonable about of time. Plus then, hopefully, introduce us to another KBO, only then to continue on forever…

        I agree, good thing rap did not make it on to the Voyager record…

  • zkank October 6, 2012, 3:50 AM

    Rap?! Really?
    I believe I heard a reference to crystal meth, and it sounded like the rapper said trufe, instead of truth.

    I’m glad Voyager launched before rap was invented and added to the disc!

    Other than that, with so many space agencies and the private sector getting ready for space baptism, developments are going to make the past fifty years look like the early aeronautic days.
    A good time to be alive!

    • Fleeben October 6, 2012, 5:34 PM

      Your age and/or cultural chauvinism are showing!

  • JM October 6, 2012, 6:54 AM

    Figured out the song via my iPhone app “Shazam”.

    Soundtrack is “Remember The Name” by Fort Minor Featuring Styles of Beyond.

    I can understand using the song for its rhythm, as the beat matches the flow of rocket launches etc., however, the lyrics…well that’s a bit of a stretch for me.