Wednesday, October 04, 2006

All Hail The Birth Of Space Junk…Kind Of

On this date in 1957, we disturbed the peace of our atmosphere, not to mention space itself, for the very first time. I really shouldn’t say “we” because it was the Soviet Union. Have you put the pieces together yet? Yep, it was the day that Russia successfully launched Sputnik (which loosely translated means ‘take that you American capitalist pigs’).

The launch sent shockwaves throughout the world. The Americans were caught sleeping, most likely because of the time difference, but that’s not the point. America would not be ready to launch a satellite until the following year and had to play catch up. When President Eisenhower questioned the military and our finest scientists, the only explanation they had was “um…oops…didn’t see that coming…sir.”

Sputnik orbited for a few months and could be heard on amateur radios in the United States as it passed overhead broadcasting its signal. If you knew where to tune in, you could hear its spooky transmission, which sounded like “ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” according to those who were able to hear it. With great irony, it re-entered earth’s atmosphere in January over Florida, the future home of all NASA spacecraft launches (ok, I made that up).

What most people don’t realize is that Russia contemplated many different uses for Sputnik, but decided against it until they sent a dog into space aboard Sputnik 2. The first thought was to pack the satellite with gunpowder similar to a firework shell. If that design had been approved, then upon reaching its maximum orbital altitude, Sputnik would have exploded and displayed the words “we win, we win,” in several vibrant colors. Another plan was to arch its trajectory to see how far into the U.S. it could land and then measure the distance like they measure a home run. The Russians had hoped that we would reciprocate and shoot one into their country to see who could shoot their satellite the furthest. However, when we didn’t play along, the cold war and space race truly began (a fact I dare you to find in all of our watered down textbooks).

Sputnik blazed a path to space that eventually led to men landing on the moon. If you are reading this over your satellite internet connection or watched your satellite TV today, you should thank Sputnik, the Patron Saint of All Orbital Things. Of course, Sputnik also led to the satellites that now hover over your city monitoring your every move, but we’ll worry about that later. Shhhh, I think they’re watching me now…

9 comments:

mist1 said...

Gawd, I miss the Cold War. Those were the days.

C said...

That is the crap that makes me shut off lights and stop watches.

Michael C said...

Mist1: Yeah, James Bond movies were a lot better when there was a cold war, too.

C: I'm sorry, if some of the satellites we launch are anything like the Hubble Telescope, they break as soon as they get up there, anyway ;-)

Dr. A said...

Space junk? Is that why I have so many dropped cell phone calls? Nah, probably because I drop my phone one too many times. Can you hear me now? Probably not.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It seems Eisenhower launched an American tradition of um... oops... didn't see that coming. Only now it's airplanes into buildings that we don't see coming.

ShadowFalcon said...

Did you hear about them launching peoples ashes in to space to make a new star, does that count as junk?


p.s you been tagged

Meloncutter said...

And I always thought the name sputnik was derived from the sound it made going around the earth. Dang ya learn something new everyday.

Later Yall.....

Ra Ra Ra Bunggio said...

you've been tagged!

o and by the way I like the MSpaint editing of sputnik.

Odat said...

I love the smiley face! Kinda makes me think of Cool Aid, which makes me think that maybe the Russians may have also been the first to try to deliver a deadly dose to us via space debris! I mean we'd go up there and try and clean up only to be killed by lime Cool Aid residue left over from Spuknik (which by the way really means Lime Cool Air in Russian).