Home 1957 Summary
Master List 1958 spacecrafts
The 3 spacecrafts launched in 1957:
1) Sputnik 2) Sputnik 2 3) Vanguard TV-3

Spacecraft Entries

Pre-Sputnik flight
Notes: In September 1956, the U.S. Army launched a Jupiter C missile from Cape Canaveral, that could have put a satellite into orbit if it had included a live third stage.
Source: Asif Siddiqi, Challenge To Apollo, p. 153 ;
Spacecraft:  PS 1 / 1-y ISZ
Chronologies: 1957 payload #1 ; 1957-001A ; 1st spacecraft.
Type: Technology
Families: 1st technology satellite (1st Soviet)
Ranks: 1st civilian spacecraft (1st Soviet) ; 1st Soviet spacecraft (1st civilian satellite)
Sponsor: Soviet Union (Korolev's Design Bureau)
Launch: 4 October 1957 at 19h12 UTC, from Baykonur Cosmodrome's LC-1, by an A/"Sputnik" (8K71PS M1-1PS).
Orbit: 227 km x 947 km x 65,1° x 96,8 min.
Decayed: 4 January 1958
Mission: Sputnik was the first artificial satellite successfully placed in orbit around the Earth and was launched from the "Baykonur Cosmodrome" at Tyuratam (370 km southwest of the small town of Baykonur) in Kazakhstan. The Russian word "Sputnik" means "companion" ("satellite" in the astronomical sense). It is a 58- cetimeter diameter aluminum sphere that carried four whip-like antennas that were 2.4 to 2.9 meters long. On-orbit dry mass: 83.60 kg. The antennas looked like long "whiskers" pointing to one side. The instruments and electric power sources were housed in a sealed capsule and included transmitters, the emissions taking place in alternating groups of 0.3 second in duration. The downlink telemetry included data on temperatures inside and on the surface of the sphere. The satellite transmitters operated for three weeks, until the on-board chemical batteries failed, and were monitored with intense interest around the world. The spacecraft obtained data pertaining to the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere and the propagation of radio signals in the ionosphere.
     The small but highly polished sphere was barely visible as a sixth magnitude object and was more difficult to follow optically than the rocket booster that also reached Earth orbit and was visible from the ground at night as a first magnitude object. Sputnik decayed 92 days after is launch, having completed about 1400 orbits around the Earth over a cumulative distance traveled of 70 million kilometers. The satellite and the launcher were developed by Sergei Korolyov's design bureau at NII-88/Podlipki (now RKK-Energiya).
Notes: The 8K71PS launch vehicle (also designated "A" or "Sputnik") is a minor modification of the experimental 8K71 R-7 ICBM. The launch vehicle earmarked for the satellite was a slightly uprated version of the basic 8K71 ICBM variant, renamed the 8K71 PS. The modifications included omitting the 300-kilogram radio package from the top of the core booster, changing the burn times of the main engines, removing a vibration measurement system, using a special nozzle system to separate the booster from the satellite installed at the top of the core stage, and installing a completely new payload shroud and container, which replaced the warhead configuration. The length of the booster with the new shroud was 29.167 meters, almost four meters shorter than the ICBM version. Because there was some doubt as to whether ground observers would be able to observe the tiny satellite in orbit, Korolev ensured that the central core of the launch vehicle was sufficiently reflective.
     The seconds counted down to zero, and Nosov shouted the command for liftoff. Chekunov immediately pressed the launch button. At exactly 2228 hours, 34 seconds, Moscow Time, the engines ignited, and the 272,830-kilogram booster lifted off the pad in a blaze of light and smoke. The five engines of the R-7 generated about 398 tons of thrust at launch. Although the rocket lifted off gracefully, there were problems. Delays in the firing of several engines could have easily resulted in a launch abort. Second, at T+16 seconds, the Tank Emptying System malfunctioned, resulting in a higher than normal kerosene consumption. A turbine failure because of this resulted in main engine cutoff one second prior to the planned moment. Separation from the core stage, however, occurred successfully at T+324.5 seconds, and the 83.6-kilogram PS-1 successfully fell into a free-fall elliptical trajectory. The first human-made object had entered orbit around Earth. A new era had begun. The Soviet media did not ascribe a specific name for the satellite, generally referring to it as Sputnik, the Russian word for "satellite," often also loosely translated as "fellow traveler."
Sputnik origins: The first Soviet satellite to be launched was the 1-tonne "Object D". But delays that occured during 1956 prompted Korolev to ordered, on 25 November 1956, a young engineer at OKB-1, Nikolay Kutyrkin, to begin designing a new smaller satellite. Another young man, Georgiy Grechko (a twenty-six-year-old engineer who would fly into space from the same site eighteen years later), set about calculating preliminary ballistics on the launch. On January 5, 1957, Korolev asked for permission to launch two small satellites, each with a mass of forty to fifty kilograms, during the period of April-June 1957, that is immediately prior to the beginning of the International Geophysical Year. Each satellite would orbit Earth at attitudes of 225 to 500 kilometers and contain a simple shortwave transmitter with a power source sufficient for ten days of operation. By January 25, 1957, Korolev had approved the initial design details of the satellite officially designated the Simple Satellite No. 1 (PS-1). On February 15, the USSR Council of Ministers formally signed a decree (no. 171-835s) titled "On Measures to Carry out in the International Geophysical Year," agreeing to the new proposal. The two new satellites, PS-1 and PS-2, would weigh approximately 100 kilograms and be launched in April-May 1957, after one or two fully successful R-7 ICBM launches. Meanwhile, the Object D launch was pushed back to April 1958. In the summer, Korolev, Glushko, and the other chief designers had informally targeted the satellite launch for the 100th anniversary of Tsiolkovskiy's birth on September 17th, but achieving this date proved increasingly unrealistic.
Source: Jonathan Space Report's Master List ; Mark Wade’s Encyclopedia Astronautica ; National Space Science Data Center's 1957-001B ; TRW Space Log ; Asif Siddiqi, Challenge To Apollo, p. 154-5, 164, 165, 167 ;
Sputnik 2
Spacecraft:  PS 2 / 2-y ISZ 
Chronologies: 1957 payload #2 ; 1957-002A ; 2nd spacecraft.
Type: Technology, science and biology
Families: 1st biosatellite (1st Soviet)
Ranks: 2nd civilian spacecraft (2nd Soviet) ; 2nd Soviet spacecraft (2nd civilian satellite)
Sponsor: Soviet Union (Korolev's Design Bureau)
Launch: 3 November 1957 at 19h12 UTC, from Baykonur Cosmodrome's LC-1, by an A/"Sputnik" (8K71PS M1-2PS).
Orbit: 225 km x 1671 km x 65,3° x 103,75 min.
Decayed: 14 April 1958
Mission: Sputnik 2 was the first biological spacecraft, carrying a dog. It was a 4-meter high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters, weighinbg 508.30 kg. It contained several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, a regeneration and temperature control system for the cabin, and scientific instruments for measuring solar radiation (ultraviolet and x-ray emissions) and cosmic rays. A separate sealed cabin contained the experimental dog Laika, a stray-dog found on the streets of Moscow. A television camera was mounted in the passenger compartment to observe Laika. The camera could transmit 100-line video frames at 10 frames/second. The spacecraft provided data on the behavior of a living organism in the space environment.
     The first being to travel to outer space was a female part-Samoyed terrier originally named Kudryavka (Little Curly) but later renamed Laika (Barker). She weighed about 6 kg. The pressurized cabin on Sputnik 2 allowed enough room for her to lie down or stand and was padded. An air regeneration system provided oxygen; food and water were dispensed in a gelatinized form. Laika was fitted with a harness, a bag to collect waste, and electrodes to monitor her vital signs. The early telemetry indicated Laika was agitated but eating her food. There was no capability of returning a payload safely to Earth at this time, so it was planned that Laika would run out of oxygen after about 10 days of orbiting the Earth.
     After reaching orbit the nose cone was jettisoned successfully but the Blok A last-stage of the booster did not separate as planned. This inhibited the operation of the thermal control system. Additionally some of the thermal insulation tore loose so the interior temperatures reached 40 °C. Doctors monitoring Layka in day following the launch began to notice a significant rise in the internal temperature of the biological compartment, apparently a result of inefficiencies and malfunctions in the spacecraft's thermal control system. For almost the entire period of her flight, Layka suffered a modicum of discomfort because of these high temperatures. The poor dog finally succumbed to heat exhaustion on the fourth day of the mission on November 7. Later analysis on the ground based on incoming telemetry confirmed the suspicions of doctors that overheating had in fact caused her death. Since Sputnik 2 had no descent capsule, the dog burned up along with the satellite as it returned to the Earth's atmosphere after 162 days in orbit.
     The Soviets revealed one striking piece of information unrelated to Layka many years later. The scientific instruments on the PS-2 had performed without any problems for a week and had detected evidence for the existence of a radiation belt around Earth. Soviet scientists on the ground who studied the data were, however, "circumspect in their interpretations" of the information. In the end. the first U,S. satellite, Explorer 1, returned the same data a few months later, and the United States claimed one of the great discoveries of the early space age: the existence of a continuous band of radiation belts around Earth. 
Origins of 
Sputnik 2
Korolev, who returned to Moscow on 5 October 1957, elected to play with an ambitious idea to sustain the successes of the new space program. Soviet leader Khrushchev immediately called him to find out all the details of the Sputnik launch. During the conversation, he asked casually whether Korolev could launch another satellite, possibly in time for the fortieth anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution on November 7. Without any hesitation, Korolev suggested that his team could launch a dog. Khrushchev was ecstatic about the idea, stipulating only that the launch had to take place by the holiday. The official order for the launch was issued on October 12, 1957, eight days after the launch of the first Sputnik. The new satellite was designated Simple Satellite No. 2 (PS-2), later named the "Second Artificial Satellite" in the Soviet press. Technical operations on the construction of the PS-2 formally began on October 10. No provision was made to return the dog from orbit because neither the technology nor the time was available to prepare for such a mission. Doctors expected to put the animal to sleep with an automated injection of poison prior to oxygen depletion in the life support system.  The total mass of the payload was 508.3 kilograms, a significant leap from the modest PS-1. 
Source: Jonathan Space Report's Master List ; Mark Wade’s Encyclopedia Astronautica ; National Space Science Data Center's 1957-002A ; TRW Space Log ; Asif Siddiqi, Challenge To Apollo, p. 171-2, 173, 175 ;
Vanguard TV-3
Spacecraft:  Vanguard TV-3 / Vanguard Test Satellite
Chronologies: 1957 payload #3 ; 1957 1st loss ; 3rd spacecraft.
Type: Technology
Families 2nd technology satellite (1st American) ; 1st failure.
Ranks: 3rd civilian spacecraft (1st American) ; 1st American spacecraft (1st civilian satellite)
Sponsor: U.S. NRL / Naval Research Laboratory
Launch: 6 December 1957 at 16h45 UTC, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's LC-18A, by a Vanguard (TV-3).
Orbit: None.
Mission: First US orbital attempt. The Vanguard TV-3 launcher was the first with three live stages. It failed to launch a test satellite weighting 1.35 kg, when it lost thrust after only 2 seconds after liif-off. The satellite was thrown clear from the explosion and is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
Origins of the Vanguard program: In the spring of 1955, scientific interest in orbiting an artificial earth satellite for International Geophysical Year (1st July 1957 to 31 December 1958) was growing. Several launch vehicle proposals were developed for placing a U.S. satellite in orbit. The proposal chosen in August 1955 to be the U.S. satellite project for the IGY was the one offered by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), based on Milton W. Rosen's concept of a new launch vehicle combining the Viking first Stage, Aerobee second stage, and a new
third stage. Rosen became technical director of the new project at NRL.
     The name "Vanguard" applied to both the first satellite series undertaken by the United States and to the launch vehicle developed to orbit the satellites. It was suggested by Rosen's wife, Josephine. Rosen forwarded the name to his NRL superiors, who approved it. The Chief of Naval Research approved the name 16 September 1956. The word denoted that which is "out ahead, in the forefront."
     On 19 May 1971, the Vanguard satellite, which had been thrown clear when vehicle exploded on pad, was presented to National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, by Dr. John P. Hagen, former director of U.S. IGY satellite program . 
Source: Jonathan Space Report's Master List ; Mark Wade’s Encyclopedia Astronautica's Vanguard page ; National Space Science Data Center's VAGT3 ; TRW Space Log ; Vanguard, A History (NASA SP-4202) Chapter 11 ; NASM Vanguard article ; KSC's Vanguard Fact Sheet ; Origins of NASA Names (NASA SP-4402) Chapter 2 p. 78-79;  Astronautics And Aeronautics, 1971, p. 135 ;

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