AskDefine | Define sputnik

Dictionary Definition

sputnik n : a Russian artificial satellite; "Sputnik was the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth"

User Contributed Dictionary



From s, with + put, way + -nik, -er (one who does/is something); hence, a fellow traveller.


  • /ˈspʌtnɪk/


  1. Any of a series of Soviet unmanned space satellites, especially the first one in 1957.

Extensive Definition

The Sputnik program (, ) was a series of robotic spacecraft missions launched by the Soviet Union. The first of these, Sputnik 1, launched the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. That launch took place on October 4, 1957 as part of the International Geophysical Year and demonstrated the viability of using artificial satellites to explore the upper atmosphere.
The Russian name "Спутник" means literally "co-traveler", "traveling companion" or "satellite", and its R-7 launch vehicle was designed initially to carry nuclear warheads.


The surprise launch of Sputnik 1, coupled with the spectacular failure of the United States' first two Project Vanguard launch attempts, shocked the United States, which responded with a number of early satellite launches, including Explorer 1, Project SCORE, and Courier 1B. The Sputnik crisis also led to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1972): DARPA, and NASA, and an increase in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education.
The launch of Sputnik 1 inspired U.S. writer Herb Caen to coin the term "beatnik" in an article about the Beat Generation in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 2, 1958. See also: -nik.

Early flights

Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957. The satellite was 58 cm (about 23 in) in diameter and weighed approximately 83.6 kg (about 183 lb). Each of its elliptical orbits around the Earth took about 96 minutes. Monitoring of the satellite was done by many amateur radio operators. Sputnik's R-7 booster had previously proven itself more than one month earlier as the world's first ICBM in the successful long-range test flight of August 21 (with the accomplishment published in Aviation Week). Sputnik 1 was not visible from Earth but the casing of the R-7 booster, traveling behind it, was.
Sputnik 2 was launched on November 3, 1957 and carried the first living passenger into orbit, a dog named Laika. The mission planners did not provide for the safe return of the spacecraft or its passenger, making Laika the first orbital casualty. This mission was promptly dubbed "Muttnik" by US humorists.
The first attempt to launch Sputnik 3, on February 3, 1958, failed, but the second on May 15 succeeded, and it carried a large array of instruments for geophysical research. Its tape recorder failed, however, making it unable to measure the Van Allen radiation belts.
Sputnik 4 was launched two years later, on May 15, 1960.
Sputnik 5 was launched on August 19, 1960 with the dogs Belka and Strelka, 40 mice, 2 rats and several plants on board. The spacecraft returned to earth the next day and all animals were recovered safely.

Sputnik 40 and Sputnik 41

Sputnik 40, also called Sputnik PS2, Radio Sputnik 17 (RS-17) and Mini-Sputnik, was a 1⁄3-scale model amateur radio satellite launched from the Mir space station on 3 November 1997 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Sputnik 1. The spacecraft body resembled Sputnik 1 and was built by students at the Polytechnic Laboratory of Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria. The transmitter was built by students from Jules Reydellet College in Réunion, with technical support from AMSAT-France. Its batteries expired on 29 December 1998 and the VHF transmitter fell silent. Its international designator is 1997-058C, United States Space Command object 24958.
Sputnik 41 (RS-18, designator 1998-62C, object 25533) was launched a year later, on 10 November 1998. It also carried a transmitter.

See also


Further reading

  • Dickson, Paul, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, Walker & Company (June 26, 2007), ISBN 978-0802713650
sputnik in Bengali: স্পুতনিক প্রকল্প
sputnik in Bosnian: Sputnik
sputnik in Breton: Spoutnik
sputnik in Bulgarian: Спутник (програма)
sputnik in Catalan: Sputnik
sputnik in Czech: Sputnik
sputnik in Danish: Sputnik-satellitter
sputnik in German: Sputnik
sputnik in Spanish: Programa Sputnik
sputnik in Esperanto: Sputniko
sputnik in French: Spoutnik
sputnik in Korean: 스푸트니크 계획
sputnik in Croatian: Sputnjik
sputnik in Indonesian: Program Sputnik
sputnik in Italian: Programma Sputnik
sputnik in Hebrew: תוכנית ספוטניק
sputnik in Georgian: სპუტნიკი
sputnik in Lithuanian: Sputnik programa
sputnik in Malayalam: സ്പുട്നിക്
sputnik in Dutch: Spoetnik (ruimtevaartprogramma)
sputnik in Japanese: スプートニク計画
sputnik in Norwegian Nynorsk: Sputnik
sputnik in Narom: Sputnik
sputnik in Polish: Sputnik
sputnik in Portuguese: Sputnik
sputnik in Romanian: Sputnik
sputnik in Russian: Спутник (КА)
sputnik in Sicilian: Sputnik
sputnik in Simple English: Sputnik
sputnik in Slovak: Program Sputnik
sputnik in Serbian: Спутњик
sputnik in Serbo-Croatian: Sputnjik
sputnik in Swedish: Sputnik
sputnik in Tagalog: Sputnik
sputnik in Thai: สปุตนิก
sputnik in Vietnamese: Sputnik
sputnik in Turkish: Sputnik programı
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