The Sputnik Effect; Space Age, at 50, Marks a Milestone

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 4, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Sputnik Effect; Space Age, at 50, Marks a Milestone


Byline: Kristi Moore, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

To America's greatest generation, it symbolized a U.S. failure, and the very thought of Russian weapons in space was terrifying. To their children - the baby boomers - it made reality of science fiction while the phrase "duck and cover" became a staple of Cold War safety drills.

For America as a nation, the space race had officially begun.

Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, was launched by the Soviet Union on Oct. 4, 1957, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. In those 98 minutes, the 184-pound, basketball-size Russian satellite ushered in an era of educational, social and scientific changes that marked the start of the space age and profoundly changed life in the United States.

"We stood outside with thousands of others, staring up. Some cried, some silent," said David Hoffman, director of the movie "Sputnik Mania."

Before long, the haunting "beep, beep, beep" that was heard on the radio by many Americans appeared in songs, Sputnik-related commercials played on television screens and imitation Sputniks decorated front yards.

The effects of Sputnik, however, went well beyond pop culture and home decor. The political and national-security implications were severe.

"Sputnik indicated that a country could drop nuclear weapons on any city, and we had no defense," Mr. Hoffman said. "It convinced Americans that we should spend whatever we could to build weapons."

Of course, all of these notions created a deep fear among the American public, as a certain resentfulness toward the Soviet Union began to emerge.

"The reaction in America can be described by one word: fear," said Saskia Sassen, Lynd professor of sociology at Columbia University. "Imaginations just carried away with terror, thinking of Sputnik."

Some even compare the level of fear to that of September 11, 2001.

"September 11, though absolutely horrible, was not as frightening as Sputnik," Mr. Hoffman said. "Not only weren't we so great, but the guy who was so great was the guy who was our archenemy."

Beyond these political implications, the face of United States education changed dramatically, whose effects still confront America today.

"Sputnik was the beginning of space science," said G. Scott Hubbard, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University. "Sputnik kicked it off in a very definitive way."

The development of space science then translated into the push of math and science education for the average student.

Sputnik "stimulated a very strong movement to improve the quality of math and science education," said Martin Collins, the curator from the space history division of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "That interest has been there ever since Sputnik."

The changes are evident today, as a curriculum focused heavily on math and science is stressed in the school systems. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Sputnik Effect; Space Age, at 50, Marks a Milestone
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.