On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit. Sputnik weighed in at just under 184 pounds, with a diameter (22.8 inches) slightly smaller than a basketball. Sputnik orbited the Earth until January 4, 1958, when it burned up upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. In the following telegram, Ellis Briggs, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil provides an analysis of recent developments.
Walter McDougall, The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)