The Launch of Sputnik 1

On October 4, 1957, Russia launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit. This marked the beginning of the Space Race and sparked a great deal of panic in the U.S. Below is vocabulary compiled from the New York Times article published the next day.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. satellite
    man-made equipment that orbits around the earth or the moon
    Moscow, Saturday, Oct. 5--The Soviet Union announced this morning that it successfully launched a man-made earth satellite into space yesterday.
  2. calculate
    make a mathematical computation
    The Russians calculated the satellite's orbit at a maximum of 560 miles above the earth and its speed at 18,000 miles an hour.
  3. orbit
    the path of a celestial body in its revolution about another
    The Russians calculated the satellite's orbit at a maximum of 560 miles above the earth and its speed at 18,000 miles an hour.
  4. artificial
    not arising from natural growth
    The official Soviet news agency Tass said the artificial moon, with a diameter of twenty-two inches and a weight of 184 pounds, was circling the earth once every hour and thirty-five minutes.
  5. trajectory
    the path followed by an object moving through space
    The trajectory of the satellite is being tracked by numerous scientific stations.
  6. plane
    an unbounded two-dimensional shape
    Tass said the satellite was moving at al angle of 65 degrees to the equatorial plane and would pass over the Moscow area twice today.
  7. assert
    declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
    Thus it asserted that it had put a scientific instrument into space before the United States.
  8. disclose
    make known to the public information previously kept secret
    Washington has disclosed plans to launch a satellite next spring, Oct. 4.
  9. propaganda
    information that is spread to promote some cause
    It did not pass up the opportunity to use the launching for propaganda purposes.
  10. socialist
    advocating the state ownership of industry
    It said in its announcement that people now could see how "the new socialist society" had turned the boldest dreams of mankind into reality.
  11. intensive
    characterized by a heightened level or degree
    "As a result of intensive work by the research institutes and design bureaus, the first artificial earth satellite in the world has now been created."
  12. tremendous
    extreme in degree or extent or amount or impact
    The Soviet announcement said that as a result of the tremendous speed at which the satellite was moving it would burn up as soon as it reached the denser layers of the atmosphere.
  13. practicable
    usable for a specific purpose
    Military experts have said that the satellites would have no practicable military application in the foreseeable future.
  14. ballistic
    of the motion of objects moving under their own momentum
    They said, however, that study of such satellites could provide valuable information that might be applied to flight studies for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  15. cosmic
    pertaining to or characteristic of the universe
    Their real significance would be in providing scientists with important new information concerning the nature of the sun, cosmic radiation, solar radio interference and static-producing phenomena radiating from the north and south magnetic poles.
  16. inestimable
    beyond calculation or measure
    All this information would be of inestimable value for those who are working on the problem of sending missiles and eventually men into the vast reaches of the solar system.

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