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History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball (58 cm.or 22.8 inches in diameter), weighed only 83.6 kg. or 183.9 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race. http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/ Probably a malicious apocryphal rumor, but I once heard the Russians programmed Sputnik to transmit a radio signal which was used by many automatic door openers. Supposedly gates and garage doors were opening and shutting like crazy all over the USA as the satellite passed overhead. Great sense of humor IF it's true!