In the language of the Pravda newspaper it sounded like this: on October 4, 1957 at 22 hours 28 minutes 34 seconds Moscow time from the Baikonur cosmodrome the launch of astrorocket started. It put the first universe artificial satellite of the Earth into orbit. 315 seconds after its launch, the satellite separated from the rocket and sent a beep-beep signal.
That is what was behind the official message: they didn’t have time to launch a flying laboratory, or, in the language of documents, “object D" with a mass of 1270 full-weight kilos stuffed with scientific equipment before the end of 1957. And overseas were on the alert: our first-born was threatened to be bypassed by the take-off of “Eisenhower’s moon".
“We risk losing priority,” Korolev warned the party and government. And he offered a way out – this one, a small PS-1, Prosteischiy Sputnik, (The Simplest Satellite), as it was decoded.
What did this kid look like, the one that kept the company to the moon, that was so lonely all his time? Everyone probably saw it: an aluminum alloy ball, 58 centimeters in diameter, with four antennae. Simple equipment was stored inside the satellite: a block of electrochemical sources; a radio transmitting device; a fan; thermoregulation system, as well as temperature and pressure sensors. The range of transmitters of the simplest satellite were chosen so that the satellite could be monitored by home radio amateurs. Science did get something from the flight, although not much.
Everything that science failed to get has been more than earned by politics. The New York Times newspaper reported “90 percent of the talk about artificial earth satellites accounted for the United States. As it turned out, the 100 percent of the actual deed accounted for Russia.” But the word was added to the deed, too: in those October days the satellite circled not only in orbit, but also through the pages of world publications, flew into everyday speech, in telegrams – the annoyed Americans overwhelmed Eisenhower, who was late with his “Moon". What does he play golf, while the Russians launch a satellite?! Moreover, they wrote the word “satellite” in Latin in telegrams, but in Russian transliteration, as they would say at the end of space age.
On January 4, 1958, the symbol of the space age of mankind burned down on its duty in dense layers of the atmosphere, thus forever affirming Russian priority. Deepest gratitude to Korolev.