On 4th October 1957, the Soviets made the shock announcement that they had sent the first craft ever into orbit around the Earth. The Americans were stunned, how could the USSR have stolen a march on them in this way. That shock then turned to fear with the realisation that the Soviets were obviously that much more technologically advanced than they had suspected.
This revelation led to the advent of the space race with the birth of NASA in the US a year later, a policy change that culminated in 1969’s descent of man to the lunar surface. But, it was also the techno trigger that started the cold war that ended twenty years later with the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Now, 20 years on, the world is still in political and economic turmoil. from the vantage point of the gutter we may not be able to reach for the stars, but we can still watch them.
In the excellent Sputnik Mania (now on a double DVD from History Films with an hour and a half of bonus footage), the vivid impact on the American psyche following the successful launch of Sputnik is played out.
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