60 years ago in the USSR, the first artificial Earth satellite was launched.”Gazeta.ru” recalls the prehistory of the launch of the first satellite, and also talks with witnesses of that legendary event. Memories of this with “Gazeta.Ru”, in particular, shared an adviser to the government of South Australia.

In the beginning, there was a rocket

At the beginning of the 20th century, people’s minds were captured by aviation. In 1908, the founder of theoretical astronautics, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, published in the journal “Bulletin of Aeronautics” an article “Investigation of the world spaces with reactive devices.” This and other of his works anticipated the emergence of rockets on liquid fuels, artificial Earth satellites, and orbital stations.

The creation of the satellite was preceded by many years of hard work of research institutes and design bureaus.

Before the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, Soviet laboratories developed solid-propellant missile shells and accelerators for aircraft, the first domestic liquid engines. In 1933, the first rocket with a liquid rocket engine GIRD-09 was launched in the USSR. Ballistic and cruise missiles for various purposes, solid propellant and liquid engines were also developed and tested.

Scientists and inventors who have devoted years to the creation of rockets with a jet engine, the ultimate goal of their work saw the exploration of outer space.

Designer Mikhail Tikhonravov, an associate of Sergei Korolev, said back in the 1930s: “Without exception, all work in the field of rocket technology ultimately leads to a space flight.”

After the war, Soviet inventors led by Korolev gained access to German trophy equipment, in particular, to the V-2 missile with a range of up to 320 km, which became the first object that a suborbital spaceflight carried out.

On its basis in the future, under the leadership of the Queen, a number of Soviet missiles were created and adopted. In 1954, the development of the R-7 missile, the range of which was up to 9500 km, began. “Seven” was the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile successfully tested and delivered a warhead to the intercontinental range.

“The history of the creation of the First Satellite is the history of the rocket. The missile technology of the Soviet Union and the United States had a German origin,

September 25, 1955, at the jubilee session of the Moscow Higher Technical School. Bauman, dedicated to his 125th birthday, Korolev, speaking with a report, said: “Our task is to make Soviet missiles fly higher and earlier than it will be done elsewhere. Our task is to make a Soviet man fly on a rocket … The fact that the first artificial Earth satellite was Soviet was created by Soviet people. ”

Only the ball!

Korolev proposed the “Seven” as a candidate for launching an artificial Earth satellite into space. This initiative was supported by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In April 1956, at the suggestion of the Queen, she convened the All-Union Conference on Upper Atmosphere Research. On it, Korolyov read the report “Investigation of the upper layers of the atmosphere with the help of long-range missiles.”

“The modern development of technology is such that one can expect in the near future the creation of an artificial Earth satellite, maybe a satellite just at relatively low altitudes, and then a permanent satellite,

– he said. – The real task is to develop a missile flight to the Moon and back from the Moon. This problem is most simply solved when starting from a satellite, but it is solved even at the start from the Earth. ”

Initially, the government decree ordered the creation of a satellite whose tasks included measuring the ionic composition of space, corpuscular solar radiation, magnetic fields, cosmic rays, the thermal regime of the satellite, its inhibition in the upper layers of the atmosphere, the duration of existence in orbit, the accuracy of determining the coordinates and orbital parameters. The mass of the satellite was to be 1000-1400 kg, and the research equipment should be added to this another 200-300 kg. The satellite was planned to be put into orbit in 1957-1958.

In the Design Bureau of the Queen, several versions of a satellite-laboratory weighing up to 1300 kg were developed. However, it soon became apparent that, because of the difficulties in making reliable scientific equipment, it would not be possible to finish the creation of the satellite on time. Then Korolev proposed instead of a complex laboratory to bring into space a simple satellite – otherwise, the USSR risked missing the launch championship. The proposal was approved.

There was controversy about which first satellite of the Earth should have a shape. “A ball and only a ball!” – insisted Korolev.

By September 1957, the satellite had already passed the final tests on the shaker and in the heat chamber.

The satellite, modestly called PS-1 (“Simplest satellite-1”), eventually got the shape of a ball 58 cm in diameter and weighing 83.6 kg. This form allowed the complete use of its internal space. The hermetic case was made of aluminum alloys, radio equipment, and silver-zinc batteries, designed for 2-3 weeks, were located inside. Before the launch, the satellite was filled with nitrogen gas.

Two 1-watt radio transmitters emitting signals at a wavelength of 15 and 7.5 m were installed on the satellite. Four-rod antenna lengths of 2.4-2.9 m were located on the outer surface. The signal duration was 0.3 seconds, the reception was possible at a distance of up to 10 thousand km.

And at the Tira-Tam training ground, the future Baikonur cosmodrome, in the meantime, test launches of the Seven were conducted.

In September, a missile intended for launching a satellite arrived at the site. It was seven tons lighter than standard ones – the designers replaced the head part with a transition under the satellite, abandoned the equipment of the radio control systems, simplified the automatic shutdown of the engines.

On October 2, Korolev signed an order for the flight tests of the FS-1 and sent a notification to Moscow of readiness, but received no response. Then he independently decided to put the rocket on the satellite into the starting position.

The signal of the satellite was received by radio amateurs around the world.

At the first turn, TASS reported: “As a result of the great hard work of research institutes and design offices, the world’s first artificial Earth satellite was created.”

“After the first delights, when the signals” BIP-BIP-BIP “became immediately known on the site and finally processed telemetry, it became clear: the rocket started” on the eyebrows “, Chertok recalled. – The engine of the side block “G” came to the mode with a delay, that is, less than a second before the control time. If only a little longer, the circuit automatically “dropped” the installation and the start would be canceled. Moreover, on the 16th second of the flight the tank emptying control system failed. This led to an increased consumption of kerosene and the engine of the central unit was switched off a second earlier than the calculated value. There were other problems. If only a little more and the first space velocity could not be achieved. But the winners are well judged! The Great has come to pass! ”

The period of revolution of the satellite around the Earth was about 96 minutes. He stayed in Earth’s orbit until January 4, 1958, having made 1440 turns.

In addition to verifying the decisions taken to launch the solutions and investigating the operating conditions of the equipment, the launch goal also included ionospheric studies of the propagation of radio waves emitted by the satellite transmitters and the experimental determination of the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere by deceleration of the satellite. The collected data were of high scientific value, in particular, the results of measurements of the density of high atmospheric layers made it possible to create a theory of braking of satellites.

“The world was literally stunned! The satellite changed the political alignment of forces. The US Secretary of Defense declared: “Victory in the war with the USSR is more unattainable.” Replacing the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb by a small companion, we gained a huge political and social victory, “Chertok said.

At a recent International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Professor Robert Thomas, the adviser to the South Australian state government on environmental issues, told a Gazeta.correspondent about his childhood impressions of the flight of the first satellite.

“In 1957 I was 7 years old. We lived in a suburb of Adelaide and that night with friends lay on my back in the courtyard of my house. We knew about his flight because by that time newspapers had already written about him.

I was amazed at what I saw, the companion was fantastic for us, it was an incredible event for us, especially at that age.

Then I was still too young to be interested in science, but the satellite opened my eyes to the cosmos, the stars and the universe. I began to observe the objects that move in the sky.

My father was an engineer, and we were both carried away by a companion, from him I inherited the urge to explore the world around me. The second impression for me was the flight of Yuri Gagarin in 1961 when I was 12 years old, and I also remember this event. We said: “Wow! It’s incredible, man, Russian in space. Then we witnessed the missions of Apollo and the landing of a man on the moon. And now I believe that cooperation in outer space is one of the best ways to establish relations between countries. ”

By the way, the launch of the satellite coincided with the opening of the International Congress on Astronautics, which was held in 1957 in Barcelona. It was there that Academician Leonid Sedov announced the launch of the satellite into orbit. Since the names of the leaders of the Soviet space program were classified, it was Sedov who in the eyes of the world community became the “Sputnik’s father”.

November 3, 1957, was launched “Sputnik-2”, on board which was the first spaceborne living creature, the dog Laika.

Alas, Laika died because of an error in calculating the satellite’s area and lack of a thermal control system – the temperature in the cabin rose to 40 ° C, and the dog died from overheating.

In parallel with the USSR, they were working on the development of a satellite and the United States. Avant-garde TV3 was launched on December 6, 1957, but within two seconds the missile lost traction due to the explosion of fuel tanks. The satellite was damaged and was not subject to further use. In the press, he was mockingly called “flopnik”, “kaputnik” and “umpnik” – by analogy with the word “satellite”, which, after the launch of PS-1 quickly entered the world’s languages.

Today there are more than three thousand satellites in the Earth’s orbit, most of which, however, do not work anymore. More than 2/3 of them belong to Russia and the United States.