In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik (the world's first artificial satellite) into space from Site No. 1 (otherwise known as Baikonur Cosmodrome) in Kazakhstan. That feat shocked Americans (and their government), igniting the US-Soviet space race.
One month after Sputnik, the Soviets launched Sputnik II. Fifteen months later, the United States responded with Explorer I.
Fifty years after its launch, one of Sputnik’s chief developers - Boris Chertok - reflected on the astounding and unanticipated impact Sputnik had on space exploration.
Image of Sputnik on the launch pad, online courtesy the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.