The Epic Journey Begins...
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One of the dates that separate the old world from the new is 1957. On 4 October 1957, fifty years ago, the Soviet Union launched the first spacecraft, Sputnik. Early visionaries, going back to Herman Oberth and science fiction writers such as Jules Verne had dreamt of how people might one day fly in space. The first modern rocket, Wernher von Braun’s A-4, known and feared as the V-2, was flown over the Baltic on 3 October 1942. Once the war was over, European, American and Russian engineers and scientists realized that the A-4 had brought technology to a level which could contemplate the putting into orbit of a small satellite. The early 1950s saw leading American companies, designers and think tanks put forward proposals for a small satellite that could orbit the Earth. In the Soviet Union, a satellite team was assembled by one of Russia’s greatest designers, Mikhail Tikhonravov. They tried to interest their respective governments. But the cold war dominated the thinking of the two superpowers and their rulers were principally interested in missiles, not scientific satellites of questionable value.
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