Sputnik + 66

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the Soviet Unions launch of its Sputnik earth satellite.

There’s a great memoir, Rockets and People, by Boris Chertok. The author worked on Soviet & Russian missile and space programs over a span of many years; he has many interesting stories to tell and many interesting characters (quite  few of them who were indeed Characters) to portray.  I reviewed the book here.

7 thoughts on “Sputnik + 66”

  1. Francis Spofford wrote Red Plenty, a novel about the 1960s in the Soviet Union, when some had hope that socialism might succeed. The blog Crooked Timbers has had numerous discussions on the book, which can be accessed in this link: Red Plenty Seminar. The blog has also made an e-book out of the discussion.

  2. There is also a great book on the Soviet vs NASA race to space – although it deals primarily with the Manned race to the moon – Beyond.

    Although I was pretty young I remember the panic that hit the nation when Sputnik was launched.

  3. I have a memory of standing in our back yard and looking up at my dad’s direction to see a light crossing the sky. At one time, I believed it was Sputnik, which is almost certainly wrong. It was far too small to be visible from the ground and at the age of three or four, I would not have remembered. Much more likely it was Echo in1960.

    The first change was that by the time I went to school, all the science and math books were new and promised to be fully up to date and keep us ahead of the commies. It also signaled the first intrusion of the Federal Government into local schools. Bringing to mind the camel’s nose. While some trillions of dollars have come and most decidedly gone, I’d challenge anyone to show any objective improvement. I’d be willing to bet that even in Baltimore, every high school graduate could read and do arithmetic when Sputnik was launched, I doubt they are even a majority now.

    The other was winning the space race cemented the idea that the Federal Government was capable of solving any problem if enough money was thrown at it. Instead it just proved that the German scientists we whisked from under the jurisdiction of the War Crimes Tribunals were better than the ones the Russians got.

    If you want to read another book about the early years of rocketry, I recommend this:

    They put the blast in blast off.

  4. MCS…yes, federal funding of education was greatly increased because we needed to stay ahead of the Soviets. (I believe it was also argued that a scientifically-educated citizenry was needed as well as a core of brilliant scientists and engineers)

    In retrospect, it looks like a bait-and-switch act. The funding remains and has increased, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of serious science education going on in K-12.

Comments are closed.