The 50th Anniversary of the First Artificial Earth Satellite’s Launch
The 4th of October 1957 became an epoch-making day in exploration of the outer space. On that day the first artificial earth satellite “Sputnik-1” was launched in the Soviet Union. This event predetermined the ways of the world astronautics development. Now this day is considered to be a starting point in the national satellite making and the beginning of the Space Era. During almost 50 years the rocket and the space technologies became a life-work for several generations of the Reshetnev’s NPO PM specialists.
“Sputnik - 1” was developed and injected into orbit on initiative of S. Korolev and his associates. Then they were already sure that launching of the first artificial earth satellite (AES) would push the world forward in the process of space exploration and in time would help to solve difficult questions. In 1959 due to the directives of S. Korolev the rocket and space technologies manufacture was established in Siberia – the branch office #2 of the OKB-1 (Experimental Design Bureau). Today it is the “Academician M.F. Reshetnev NPO PM” – a leading company in the sphere of developing and manufacturing spacecrafts for different missions.
At first the AES was planned to be of a heavy class. But the process of its manufacturing was prolonged and its launching had to be delayed. So it was decided to develop an elementary satellite at first. No matter how simple that could appear, at that time there were no analogues of such techniques in the world. In accordance with the development schedule, the satellite should solve a number of scientific and research questions. “Sputnik-1” was a container in the form of a sphere with diameter of 580-mm. The satellite’s spherical form favored to the most accurate determination of the atmosphere density in high altitudes where scientific calculations yet hadn’t been carried out. The body of the satellite was assembled of two shells with attachment frames fastened with 36 bolts.
The satellite emitted a signal in the short-wave and ultra short-wave bands so that the radio fans of the world could receive it. The transmitting power of the satellite was 1 watt. The weight of the first artificial earth satellite was only 83,6 kg and its diameter - 58 cm.
Sputnik-1 was injected into orbit with the launcher “R-7” at the “Baikonour” launching site. After the final stage separation the satellite started transmitting the first signals. During its lifetime period Sputnik-1 made 1440 turns around the Earth. Each of the turns took 96 minutes and 10,2 seconds. The maximal distance from the Earth’s surface was 947 km. The first artificial earth satellite “lived” for 92 days.
The 4th of October 1957 – the first artificial earth satellite launching date – symbolizes the space break-through of our country and the entire world; new perspectives in researching the near-earth space. In two years after the satellite had been launched there was established the branch office #2 of the OKB-1 (today NPO PM), M. Reshetnev - one of the associates of S. Korolev became the head of the branch office. It was him who inherited the satellite concern. Today the scientists, designers, engineers and workers of the company keep on working for the common cause – Russian satellites – the matter to which were devoted its founders:
S. Korolev and M. Reshetnev. Those who work at NPO PM today can be proud of the fact that during almost 50 years the company has developed and produced 2/3 of the National Orbital Constellation: more than 1130 spacecrafts and about 40 space systems and complexes.