Sputnik 1


Sputnik 1

The Sputnik satellite was about the size of a beach-ball, with a 58cm diameter. It weighed in at 83 kilos and its antenna measured a little under 4 meters in length.
It was configured to broadcast its "beep" signal on the 20MHZ and 40MHZ radio frequencies.
The craft orbited the earth once every 96 minutes for 22 days until its batteries failed on the 28th of October 1957 and Sputnik fell silent. It burned up during an uncontrolled re-entry on January 4th, 1958.
The main goal of the Sputnik launch was not only to put the spacecraft in orbit but to allow it to transmit its famous "Beep Beep" signal to the world. The signal was transmitted on the same frequency used by ham radio enthusiasts throughout the globe, ensuring the world would be in no doubt that the Soviet Union was the first nation in orbit. The Americans didn't launch their satellite "Explorer 1" for a further three months on January 31st of 1968

Sputnik 2 


Sputnik 2

Launched on the 3rd of November 1957, Sputnik 2 was the first spacecraft to contain a living animal and was the second artificial satellite in earth orbit. Inside Sputnik 2 was Laika . The 3-year-old crossbreed Laika was found as a stray on the streets of Moscow and became the first creature in earth orbit. The satellite, took the shape of a 4-meter high cone, with a 2-meter diameter, and weighed in at approximately 500 kilos, considerably larger than the Sputnik 1 satellite launched the previous month. Several compartments on the craft held a variety of experimental equipment. Laika had her own cabin but we now know that due to a malfunction in the thermal control subsystem Laika had died several hours into the flight. Sputnik 2 re-entered the earth's atmosphere on the 14th April 1958 after being in orbit for 162 days

Sputnik 3


Sputnik 3

May 15th, 1958 saw the launch of Sputnik 3. Another cone-shaped craft was originally planned to be Russia's first satellite until the much smaller and less sophisticated Sputnik 1 was promoted to the world's first satellite. Sputnik 3 again was heavier than Sputnik 2. A total length of 3.57 meters and a diameter of 1.73 meters. It weighed 1.327 kilos, nearly one and a half tonnes at launch, and carrying 12 scientific instruments. The mission's goal was to study the earth's ionosphere, the upper layers of the earth's atmosphere. With instruments studying charged particles, magnetic and electrostatic fields, and study the temperature of the craft on its surface. On the 6th April 1960, its orbit had degraded so much it burnt up in the upper atmosphere.