Archive for October 4th, 2008

04
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-4-2008: Sputnik

October 4, 1957

Sputnik launched

The Soviet Union inaugurates the “Space Age” with its launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The spacecraft, named Sputnik after the Russian word for “satellite,” was launched at 10:29 p.m. Moscow time from the Tyuratam launch base in the Kazakh Republic. Sputnik had a diameter of 22 inches and weighed 184 pounds and circled Earth once every hour and 36 minutes. Traveling at 18,000 miles an hour, its elliptical orbit had an apogee (farthest point from Earth) of 584 miles and a perigee (nearest point) of 143 miles. Visible with binoculars before sunrise or after sunset, Sputnik transmitted radio signals back to Earth strong enough to be picked up by amateur radio operators. Those in the United States with access to such equipment tuned in and listened in awe as the beeping Soviet spacecraft passed over America several times a day. In January 1958, Sputnik’s orbit deteriorated, as expected, and the spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere.

Officially, Sputnik was launched to correspond with the International Geophysical Year, a solar period that the International Council of Scientific Unions declared would be ideal for the launching of artificial satellites to study Earth and the solar system. However, many Americans feared more sinister uses of the Soviets’ new rocket and satellite technology, which was apparently strides ahead of the U.S. space effort. Sputnik was some 10 times the size of the first planned U.S. satellite, which was not scheduled to be launched until the next year. The U.S. government, military, and scientific community were caught off guard by the Soviet technological achievement, and their united efforts to catch up with the Soviets heralded the beginning of the “space race.”

The first U.S. satellite, Explorer, was launched on January 31, 1958. By then, the Soviets had already achieved another ideological victory when they launched a dog into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. The Soviet space program went on to achieve a series of other space firsts in the late 1950s and early 1960s: first man in space, first woman, first three men, first space walk, first spacecraft to impact the moon, first to orbit the moon, first to impact Venus, and first craft to soft-land on the moon. However, the United States took a giant leap ahead in the space race in the late ’60s with the Apollo lunar-landing program, which successfully landed two Apollo 11 astronauts on the surface of the moon in July 1969.

“Sputnik launched.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Oct 2008, 04:34 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=7040.

On This Day

1535 – The first complete English translation of the Bible was printed in Zurich, Switzerland.

1777 – At Germantown, PA, Patriot forces and British forces both suffer heavy losses in battle. The battle was seen as British victory, which actually served as a moral boost to the Americans.

1909 – The first airship race in the U.S. took place in St. Louis, MO.

1915 – The Dinosaur National Monument was established. The area covered part of Utah and Colorado.

1927 – The first actual work of carving began on Mount Rushmore.

1940 – Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met in the Alps at Brenner Pass. Hitler was seeking help from Italy to fight the British.

1958 – British Overseas Airways Corporation became the first jetliner to offer trans-Atlantic service to passengers with flights between London, England and New York.

1985 – The Shiite Muslim group Islamic Jihad announced that they had killed American hostage William Buckley. Later another American hostage said that he believed that Buckley had died four months earlier from torture.

1990 – The German parliament had its first meeting since reunification.

1993 – Russian Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi and Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov surrendered to Boris Yeltsin after a ten-hour tank assault on the Russian White House. The two men had barricaded themselves in after Yeltsin called for general elections and dissolved the legislative body.

1993 – Dozens of Somalis dragged an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu. A videotape showed Michael Durant being taken prisoner by Somali militants.

2004 – SpaceShipOne reached an altitude of 368,000 feet. It was the first privately built, manned rocket ship to fly in space twice within a two week window. The ship won the Ansari X Prize of $10 million dollars for their success.  http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/

2008 – The largest money-grab in the history of the United States began, bilking Americans out of billions of dollars.

October 4, 1964

Johnson orders the commencement of Oplan 34A raids

President Johnson issues the order to reactivate North Vietnamese coastal raids by South Vietnamese boats as part of Oplan 34A.

These raids had been suspended after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox, which was conducting an intelligence gathering mission in the same general area that had just come under attack by several Oplan 34A raids. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident, the details of which remain unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were, at the time, believed to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats.

Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam and ultimately, the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area. After two months, approval was given to continue the Oplan 34A raids against North Vietnamese coastal installations.

“Johnson orders the commencement of Oplan 34A raids.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Oct 2008, 04:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1398.

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