Saturday, October 06, 2012

55 Years Ago

This past Thursday, I realized too late to post, was the 55th anniversary of one of those era-changing events. I was nine-years-old. We were watching TV and a news bulletin came on. Russia (the Soviet Union) had launched the first successful artificial earth satellite. Sputnik I was orbiting and beeping.

I recall a moment of fear. This was, remember, the era of atomic war drills of hiding under desks, etc. What was Sputnik doing? Was it a military satellite loaded with bombs to drop on the USA? Were we safe anymore if a satellite could be sent into space?

I heard the beeps and on another night went outside with my parents to watch this light go across the sky.

Thus began the space race. Never again would we be as tied to the old Terra Firma. Soon we would have Telstar- the first communications satellite. Weather satellites would improve forecasting and understanding. The NASA astronauts would take center stage until Neil Armstrong took the first steps on another celestial object. Now we watch pictures in HD from Mars.

It all began on that October day 55 years ago with this beeping light in the sky.

Here is a CBS News Special Report two days later. Note the paranoia and uncertainty and remember that "instant" communications world-wide was unknown at the time.

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