Re: Sputnik 1: T+ 50

Date: Sun Oct 07 2007 - 03:55:28 EDT

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    Ted Molczan wrote:
    > Congratulations to our Russian friends on the 50th anniversary of the launch of
    > Sputnik 1. 
    > I encourage one and all to share your thoughts on the significance of Sputnik 1,
    > or your stories about tracking the early satellites.
    I remember Friday, October 4 1957. About 7:30 pm. Listening to Rock N Roll 
    on radio station 1010 WINS, in my bedroom in The Bronx, NYC. My parents were 
    out shopping. The news came on and I heard that Russia had launched the 
    first satellite. I had been anticipating a satellite for years, but that was 
      to be called Vanguard, not Sputnik. This was a complete, but exciting 
    When my folks came home, I was jumping around yelling, the first earth 
    satellite has been launched. They asked something like, "what's an earth 
    With me around, it didn't take them long to find out.
    Unfortunately, I never got to see it. My first satellite sighting was 
    Sputnik 3 rocket in summer 1958 while on vacation in Pennsylvania.
    There had been a prediction in the newspaper so I got up in the morning to 
    see a flashing light rising in the south, culminating 1/3 - 1/2 way up in 
    SE, setting in the east. That was first of a couple thousand different 
    satellites observed.  Obviously, still one my of my most memorable sightings.
    Some members of the astronomy club claimed the whole thing was a hoax. The 
    Russians couldn't possibly be good enough to put something into orbit.
    It was infuriating that supposedly smart people (astronomy club members) 
    could be so stupid. I pointed out that, following predictions, a light had 
    been tracked moving across the sky from several places in the world.  It 
    would be harder to have a phony light move around the planet at the right 
    apparent speed and direction, than to actually launch a real satellite. So 
    if it was a hoax, the Russians were smarter than if they had launched a 
    Another memory, a year or 2 earlier, was a seminar at the American Museum of 
    Natural History in NYC. The one topic I remember was discussion of where to 
    launch Vanguard from.  White Sands was mentioned as a possibility, but 
    reasons were presented favoring some place in Florida called Cape Canaveral.
    I managed to get autographs of 2 people in attendance. Willie Ley and Von 
    Braun.  I've often thought about, but don't know whatever became of those 
    Jay Respler
                  Freehold, New Jersey
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