The Team That Tracked Sputnik – Jodrell Bank Observatory only telescope that could monitor

The Team That Tracked Sputnik

The Team That Tracked Sputnik – barely finished it had the capability to track down and monitor the beeping. A huge telescope in England was used to pin point the sound.  It was the only one. 

Sixty years ago, the rocket that sent Sputnik into space was the first intercontinental ballistic missile ever launched.

The (barely finished) Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire was the only instrument with the scale and power to potentially track it.

Dr Bryan Lovell explains the leading role British scientists played there in this chapter of the Cold War.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite.  The Soviet Union launched the tiny silver sphere with four spindly legs 4th October 1957.  It started a space race between Moscow and Washington.

The United States experience worldwide humiliation. Plans to be the first in space had been crushed.

In mid-1955 President Eisenhower declared that the nation would place a scientific satellite into orbit.  Launch planned year of 1957. But before the Vanguard met its rocket a persistent beeping from space revealed that the Soviet Union had in orbit Sputnik 1.  Soviet Union won first leg of what became the space race.

A month later USSR stunned the world again by launching the first space traveller. A small dog named Laika was on board Sputnik 2.

This further stunned the world and the United States swung into action. 1958 the year of the launch into space of the Vanguard rocket. It failed. Explorer 1 however made it.  NASA was later set-up.

video: BBC Sheffield


  1. Sputnik Celebrating 60 Years - 4th October - its launch started the space race | YNUKtvYNUKtv - October 4, 2017

    […] into space. The equipment on board the Soviet spacecraft a simple transmitter. But the incessant beeping it transmitted sent shockwaves around the […]

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