The Space Age Turns 50 - Ideas of Space Flight from the Early 20th Century
October 4, 1957
The first artificial satellite (or artificial "moon") was launched the night of Friday, October 4, 1957.
The launch site was near the railway town of Tyuratam, Kazahkstan in the Soviet Union (now known as the Biakonur Cosmodrome). The launch is described by Matt Brille and Erika Lishock in The First Space Race as follows:
"The satellite and launch vehicle had been on the pad for two days when Sergey Korolev gave the order to fire. The complex 'petal' structure surrounding the rocket opened perfectly, its long stabilizing arms swung up and back by counterweights. Engineers and technicians streamed from the pad as various tasks were done, until the rocket stood alone in the cold night. The oxidizer tanks were topped off. Five minutes before liftoff, a warning light reported a malfunction in the oxidizer loading system. After a hasty conference, Korolev ordered the warning overridden. At 10:28 p.m. Moscow time, the R-7 thundered into the sky."
This marks a triumph in exploration dreamed of by humanity for thousands of years.
Go to Ideas of Space Travel in Antiquity section.