Space Race


In 1957, man entered the space age.

On 5 October, the New York Times carried a headline spanning the entire front page : 'Soviet fires earth satellite into space; it is circling the globe at 18000 mph; sphere tracked in 4 crossings over US.' Sputnik I had gone into orbit.

President Eisenhower, collected by concerned from the time of the first Russian space shot, decided something had to be done. He invited James Killian, president of MIT, for a breakfast at the White House on 24 October. At that meeting, Eisenhower offered Killian an appointment -- the first of its kind -- as full-time special assistant to the President for science and technology, to help in mobilizing the best scientific talent.

Two more major space events followed soon afterwards. On 3 November 1957, the New York Times came out with another banner headline : 'Soviet fires new satellite carrying dog; half ton sphere is reported 900 miles up.' Meanwhile, on the following 7 December the same paper reported on the first US attempt : Vanguard I, weighing 4 pounds, the size of a grapefruit or softball, had risen 2 to 4 feet, and then exploded. "This spectacular failure increased the hysteria and embarrassment in the United States and the ridicule abroad. In England, the press reveled in calling Vanguard 'Puffnik', 'Flopnik', 'Kaputnik'."