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Space Age at 50: The Top 10 Sputniks

October 4, 2007

— Fifty years ago from October 4, the horizon changed forever. What started as a science experiment, quickly evolved into a political competition, and then drove men to the Moon in fewer than 12 years.

Of course, today it seems so simple. Several thousands of satellites later, when a private company can launch a satellite into space, to say nothing of the 463 people who have been there and back, a 23-inch, 184-pound beeping ball could almost be overlooked. Almost.

The Earth's first man-made moon was in orbit for only 57 days but its influence can still be felt 50 years later. The United States' civilian space agency, NASA can credit its founding, three days shy of one year later, to the political reaction to Sputnik 1. Sputnik's now familiar "beep, beep, beep" was the original satellite radio. And the race among nations that it set into motion led to the cooperation seen today on-board the international space station.

Sputnik 1 was completely destroyed when it reentered the atmosphere on January 4, 1958. What remains today are the handful of backup units, vintage and modern replicas, and less tangible reminders of the now iconic quad-spiked sphere.

As a tribute to the five decades of space exploration that Sputnik trailblazed, collectSPACE presents a countdown of the "top ten" Sputniks, one per day, culminating on the 50th anniversary, October 4, 2007. The list begins with...


#10. World's Most Popular Sputnik (Replica)

Where else would you expect to find the world's most popular Sputnik than the world's most popular museum?

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. displays a full-size Sputnik hanging in its Milestones of Flight Gallery, near other historic air and spacecraft, including Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11's Columbia and most recently, SpaceShipOne.

For the anniversary, curators have moved Sputnik and a model of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, to hang lower to the floor and more central to the gallery.

"Sputnik looks a whole lot bigger," said Cathleen Lewis, curator of international space programs, of the satellite's new location.

Loaned by the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1976, the museum's Sputnik is empty, there are no instruments or moving parts. The replica's history is unknown, as there are no indications to its provenance.

There are other museums with other Sputniks (some of which will appear later on this countdown), on display in countries around the world. From Le Bourget, France to Prague, Czech Republic to London, England, there are, by some counts, as many as 40 Sputniks. Compared to the Smithsonian's, some are more complete, and some are more historic.

With over five million visitors per year however, there is no more popular a Sputnik than the replica at the National Air and Space Museum.

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#9. The Sputnik Sold To Seattle

It was cataloged as lot 241, titled simply as "Sputnik".

Offered for auction on May 9, 2001 by Christie's in New York, the nearly two-foot diameter silver sphere with its four extending antennae stood out from the sale's other artifacts, not just for its history but its size. On display at Christie's Rockefeller Center showroom, the Sputnik drew immediate attention.

According to its description, this Sputnik was identified as a "contemporary technological duplicate" – in other words, a working replica built at the time that the original Sputnik made its historic flight.

"The double-sphere construction, the external port for charging the battery and the internal ports for the zinc batteries and radio transmitters would indicate that its production had a more serious purpose than simple display," read Christie's catalog. "This version could be considered a working model and likely this contemporary donation to a Soviet institution was made in order to satisfy the Soviet public's insatiable curiosity as to what they had put in the sky."

If indeed this Sputnik was once complete, it was emptied of its instrumentation before reaching New York. Reddish oxidation near the interior electrical ports suggested "that a battery was installed at one time," Christie's explained.

Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the director of the Russian Memorial Cosmonautics Museum, the pre- auction estimate appraised the Sputnik for $100,000 to $150,000. When the auction was over, the contemporary duplicate had elicited the third highest bid, $116,000. A Christie's press release identified the winner only as a US private buyer.

Which may have been where this Sputnik's story ended if it weren't for another release issued several months later from the opposite coast. The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington announced the acquisition of the Sputnik for display in a permanent exhibition dedicated to the world's first satellite.

"We know of no other early, Russian-made Sputniks of this quality available," said Ralph Bufano, then-president of the Museum of Flight. "It seems this is the closest one can come to seeing one of the most important objects in history." (Bufano was succeeded as president by former NASA shuttle astronaut Bonnie Dunbar in October 2005).

The Sputnik still hangs at the Museum of Flight, now part of a new exhibition that opened in June, Space: Exploring the New Frontier.

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#8. The Sputnik(s) You Could Own

Though the occasional authentic Sputnik has been sold, the six figure sale price has kept most of us Sputnik-less. Fortunately, there are numerous smaller Sputniks — both in physical size and price tag — that means just about anyone can add a little Sputnik to their personal space.

Partly political propaganda and partly souvenir keepsake, Sputnik's distinctive silver sphere graced a collection of everyday objects, from alarm clocks to music boxes that even replicated the satellite's familiar 'beep'. The designs varied but all of them shared a similar purpose: to convey the Soviet's technological superiority in space to Western consumers.

Fifty years later, the knickknacks have become kitschy- cool. A vintage chrome Sputnik with its four silver spikes attached and a working musical base can sell upwards of several hundred dollars. Modern replicas of the same can be found for far less (though they have also been passed off as the half-century old memento, thus caveat emptor).

New Sputnik models are also being manufactured today. Japanese toy companies recently packaged candy with a mini Sputnik replica, among other spacecraft models, in a twist on the old baseball card gum packs. The miniatures have since been repackaged for sale in the United States under the title "World Space Museum". The first set in the series, "The Sputnik Shock" includes a two-inch satellite orbiting a 1.25-inch Earth for just $10.

For less than that though, you can buy a different type of miniature commemorating the first man-made moon.

Postage stamps issued to mark the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and its subsequent anniversaries in the years since, were offered by many of the Eastern Bloc countries, including Mongolia, Poland and Romania, as well as the Soviet Union itself.

Saved by collectors and appreciated for their artwork, the vintage Sputnik stamps can often times be purchased for less than the price of some modern postage.

And while on the subject of recent stamps, Russia's Post issued a commemorative set of three stamps earlier this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sputnik including a stamp depicting the satellite.

Other postal authorities, including France and the United Nations have also recently designed stamps that serve to commemorate Sputnik's 50 years.

Other Sputnik collectibles include Soviet era medals and medallions, which today can be found through speciality auctions and dealers. Particularly popular are the badges and lapel pins ("znachki") that were offered in celebration to those who worked to launch Sputnik and to the public.

For Sputnik's 50th birthday, Australia's Perth Mint created the "orbital coin", a legal tender coin designed such that its depiction of the world's first satellite can revolve about the Earth located at the center of the limited edition coin.

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#7. The World's Sputnik

On March 2, 1962, just 10 days after making history as the first American in orbit, John Glenn visited the United Nations in New York to attend a reception in his honor and to address delegates from the then-newly formed Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Accompanied by his fellow Mercury astronauts, Glenn suggested that the UN was the "natural center" for international teamwork in exploring space.

Underscoring his sentiment, Glenn spent a few minutes chatting with the chief delegate from the Soviet Union, who conveyed the personal congratulations from Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

According to The New York Times from that day, as he was leaving, Glenn paused to point out to his wife Annie and their family a model of Sputnik, hanging in the public lobby.

Still hanging today where the Glenns observed it 45 years ago, the Sputnik's story dates back to October 23, 1959, when the USSR announced it would present the model "as a symbol of the scientific and technical achievements of mankind in the exploration of outer space."

The stainless steel replica was ultimately presented on December 4, 1959, the same day that the UN was gifted by the Soviet Union with a sculpture by artist Evgeniy Vuchetich entitled "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares."

The Sputnik, suspended from the ceiling of the General Assembly building, is one of three space-related symbols now on display. Hanging nearby is a Foucault pendulum, gifted by the Netherlands in 1955, which provides visual proof of the rotation of the Earth.

The third item, a moon rock gifted by the United States in July 1970, came about as the culmination of the space race between the US and USSR that began with Sputnik.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared that October 4 through October 10 each year would be World Space Week, celebrating the anniversaries of the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957 and the entry into force on October 10, 1967 of the Treaty Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, today known simply as the Outer Space Treaty.

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#6. Sputnik On The Silver Screen

A man is seen running down a Washington, D.C. hallway. Reaching a conference room, he excitedly bursts open the door.

"It's called Sputnik!" he exclaims.

"We know. Sit down," replies a man in the room tersely.

The scene, which comes 45 minutes into the 1983 film "The Right Stuff," shifts the focus from air to space in the movie adaptation of Tom Wolfe's nonfiction novel about the United States' first astronauts.

A toy cowboy dolls watches a cliffhanger episode of the 1950s TV show that inspired his existence and has now made him a collector's item.

"Hey, w-wait, What happened? What happens next? Come on, let's see the next episode!", begs the cowboy.

"That's it," replies a toy prospector doll, another character from the same show.

"What?" asks the cowboy incredulously.

"The show was cancelled after that," says the prospector.

"Wait, wait, wait. What about the gold mine and... and the cute little critters and the dynamite?" the cowboy queries. "That was a great show! I mean, why cancel it?"

"Two words," explains the prospector. "Sput-nik. Once the astronauts went up, children only wanted to play with space toys."

The scene, from the 1999 Disney/Pixar animated sequel, "Toy Story 2" changes the world view of the toy cowboy.

The real Sputnik changed the real world, dividing the past from the future.

As former NASA historian Roger Launius once noted, "almost immediately, two phrases entered the American lexicon to define time, 'pre-Sputnik' and 'post-Sputnik'."

It's therefore no surprise that Hollywood filmmakers would use Sputnik as a plot device.

It was a movie released nine months before "Toy Story 2" however, that gave Sputnik its first major role, beginning with its title.

Universal Pictures' "October Sky" was based on the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr., a NASA engineer who as a teenager was inspired to pursue a career in spaceflight after watching Sputnik cross the evening October sky in Coalwood, West Virginia. Hickam and a few friends, the "Rocket Boys", designed their own model rockets, which led them to entering and winning a science competition.

As the film opens, the citizens of Coalwood are reacting to the news of Sputnik's launch. To most of them, its a curiosity and a brief distraction from the day-to-day life in the coal mine.

"We're told that Sputnik will be visible to the naked eye about an hour after sunset and an hour before dawn as it traverses the October sky..." informs a radio broadcast.

Still, as Sputnik is scheduled to fly overhead the following evening, the town comes outside to see it. Hickam joins the crowd as someone spots the satellite, soon becoming entranced by the sight and setting his future in motion.

"I'm going to build a rocket... like Sputnik," Hickam tells his stunned-into-silence family at the breakfast table the next morning. "Well, I'm not saying it's going to go up in space or anything, but I'm going to do it. I'm going to build a rocket," he says with a wide smile.

"Well, just don't blow yourself up," replies his mother.

While a personal story, "October Sky" captured in Hickam and Coalwood an experience shared across the U.S. and the world.

The public's reaction to Sputnik is the focus of a new film by director David Hoffman. "Sputnik Mania" (formerly "The Fever of '57") tells the whole story of the launch of Sputnik and what happened to America during the following year. The feature-length documentary has been completed just in time to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Sputnik's launch.

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#5. The Newest Sputnik

Though Sputnik I fell out of orbit long ago, its familiar silver sphere and four antennae can still be seen around the globe. By some counts, there are nearly as many Sputnik replicas on display in museums today as there have been years since the original satellite was launched.

As a result of this week's 50th anniversary, the number of Sputnik replicas can be increased by at least one more...

Set to debut to the public on October 4, the same day as Sputnik entered orbit 50 years ago, the newest replica of the world's first satellite is also the newest addition to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas. The full size Sputnik model is suspended from the ceiling, hung near a replica of the Wright Flyer, the first powered aircraft, and above the real Apollo 7 spacecraft, which carried the first crew to Earth orbit during the U.S. moon landing program.

Overseeing the unveiling will be Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham, who is on the museum's board of advisors. Joining him for the October 4 festivities will be Jim Reilly, a fellow astronaut who most recently flew in June on the STS-117 mission to the International Space Station. He will present the Frontiers of Flight with a flag flown aboard space shuttle Atlantis. The evening event will be capped by a screening of "Sputnik Mania," David Hoffman's feature length documentary about the satellite.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum commissioned Arizona Model Aircrafters to create their Sputnik. The Scottsdale company, a subsidiary of Digital Design LLC, has built replicas of air and space craft for use in movies and TV, as well as for museum displays, over the past 15 years.

According to Arizona Model Aircrafters, they used the "same polished spun aluminum technique originally employed by the Soviet space program" to create their replica of Sputnik for the Frontiers of Flight Museum.

Further, their model's dimensions are "an exact full sized reproduction of the world's first artificial satellite," which measured 23 inches in diameter with two pair of 8 and 13 foot antenna beams.

For the enthusiasts planning to build their own Sputniks, Arizona Model Aircrafters has posted to their website the design schematics for their Sputnik as a free download.

The company has also posted a spare Sputnik for sale on eBay, with a "buy it now" price of $8,500. The high bid at the time of publishing was at $530, which has yet to meet Arizona Model Aircrafters' reserve. The auction is set to come to a close on Monday, October 1 at 4:45 p.m. CDT.

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#4. The Second Sputnik in Space

One day shy of a month after Sputnik 1 made history as the world's first man-made satellite, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2. This time, in addition to radio transmitters like that of its predecessor, the satellite carried the first animal into orbit, a dog named Laika.

This is not the story of Sputnik 2. Rather, the #4 Sputnik on our countdown, the second Sputnik in space, was not launched until 40 years (to the day) after Laika left Earth.

On November 3, 1997, cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov was on-board the Russian Mir space station. More precisely, he was outside the orbiting platform, performing a space walk with Anatoly Solovyov to remove a solar panel that was to be replaced three days later during another outing.

Before returning inside, Vinogradov took hold of a replica of Sputnik 1 and giving it a good toss, launched the small satellite into orbit.

Dubbed Sputnik 40 (but also referred to as RS-17a), the 1/3 scale satellite was designed by students in Russia and France to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the launch of the larger, original Sputnik on October 4, 1957. Like its namesake, Sputnik 40 also broadcasted a signal that amateur radio operators could tune in and detect. It actually 'out-beeped' Sputnik 1, as Sputnik 40's batteries allowed its radio to continue functioning for several weeks longer than the original satellite.

Sputnik 40 was launched to the Mir space station on an unmanned Progress supply ship, and it wasn't alone. A duplicate 8-inch, six pound Sputnik (RS-17b) also made it to Mir, but was never tossed overboard. It was still on the station when Mir was de-orbited and destroyed in 2001.

Two more mini-Sputniks were hand launched during the Mir program. Sputnik 41 (RS-18) was deployed by Sergei Avdeyev on November 11, 1998. His partner for the EVA, Gennady Padalka reportedly advised Avdeyev to "toss it gently toward the Moon." The upgraded Sputnik 1 replica broadcast recorded voice messages in addition to beeps.

The fourth and final scale satellite, Sputnik 99 was more notable for the controversy it ignited before leaving Earth than for its flight in orbit. RS-19 was built by the amateur radio operators association of France (AMSAT-France) at the request of the Russian space program, which wanted the small Sputnik to utilize "internet beat time," a method developed by the Swatch Group of Switzerland.

The project, dubbed 'Beatnik', was represented as being non-commercial in nature but Russia then contracted with the watchmaker to allow the broadcast of advertising in the form of voice and text messages. Concerned that the launch would set a precedent for the commercial use of amateur radio waves, operators worldwide filed protest to Beatnik. Bowing to the objections, Swatch withdrew from the project just one day before it was to be thrown off Mir.

Sputnik 99 was still launched on April 16, 1999, but ESA astronaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré was instructed to turn off its transmitter before releasing the miniature Sputnik into orbit.

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#3. The Astronaut Son's Secret Sputnik

Lord British owns a real Sputnik.

The ruler of Britannia, the fictional kingdom in the Ultima series of computer games, is the alter ego of Richard Garriott, the game's successful developer. Garriott, in real life, lives in Brittania Manor, his custom designed 'castle' in Austin, Texas, which, as one might expect, is adorned by the eclectic, from suits of armor to dinosaur fossils to the real Soviet satellite.

That he owns a Sputnik, one of the few produced by the Soviet Union at the same time the original was being built and prepared to make history as the world's first artificial moon, is not at all random. For Lord British also happens to be the son of Skylab and space shuttle U.S. astronaut Owen Garriott.

Growing up the son of a spaceman left an impression on Garriott, instilling an appreciation for space artifacts.

"About 10 years ago I bought a number of Russian space artifacts," Garriott explained to "These included a space suit, a lunar rover (still on the moon), a navigational sphere, some models and one of the original Sputniks. With my father being an astronaut and my own inherited passion for space, all these items seem natural for me to want to collect."

Natural as they might be, Garriott's collectibles are truly one of a kind. His lunar rover (Lunokhod 2) makes him the only individual to own a spacecraft on a celestial body other than Earth. And he may be the only person to own an original Sputnik rather than the replicas found in many museums.

Obtaining such rarities as the Sputnik has inspired some unique situations. For example, there's the small issue of exporting a satellite out of Russia.

"Getting the Sputnik out of Russia and into the [United States] turned out to be an interesting trick, as the large techno-globe required explanation that would allow it to pass through customs without too much trouble, and so in the end the large hemispherical globe halves became known as 'salad bowls,'" shared Garriott.

Once the two 23-inch diameter "bowls" were reunited and mated with the satellite's four long antennae, the question then became where to put it.

"As Sputnik is large, especially with its four rather long 3 meter antennae, it is actually uncommon for me to put on display at my home along with my other space artifacts," said Garriott, which is the reason why the Sputnik is still a secret to many who know him, including his father, the astronaut.

Attention generated by the 50th anniversary of Sputnik's launch however, provided the opportunity for Garriott to tell his father of his "secret" satellite, and for Owen to tell his son of his own connection with the original Sputnik I.

"With the 50th anniversary of Sputnik approaching, John Schwartz of the New York Times began researching what happened to the lost Sputnik duplicates. Through Robert Pearlman of, he tracked me and my Sputnik down," Garriott recounted.

"One of the more interesting questions he asked me about Sputnik was what influence Sputnik had on my father's interest in the space program 50 years ago. I told him that honestly, I did not know. Oddly, it had never come up as a home topic of conversation. So, I asked him."

As it turns out, it was a big influence.

"He told me that on Friday, October 4th, 1957 he was a graduate student in the Radio Propagation Laboratory at Stanford University, when news came of the launch of the Russian Sputnik transmitting signals at or about 20 Mhx. That was a frequency they could easily receive at their Radio Propagation field site on the Stanford Campus! Within a few hours most all of the laboratory faculty and grad students had converged on the field site to receive the radio signals and try and understand the 'be-beep, be-beep' as it passed overhead."

"They promptly noticed the 'Doppler shift,'" said Garriott, "like the acoustic sound of a train passing by, which they soon understood was produced by 'polarization rotation' of the received radio waves. The signals could be heard for 5-10 minutes every hour and a half for 3 or 4 orbits each day."

"This proved a fantastic opportunity for my dad to get started in research on radio signals from earth satellites and the effects produced on them by passage through the earth's ionosphere at the very beginning of the space age," he continued. "This became the topic of his PhD dissertation completed about 2 years later. I would add that this would clearly be of direct interest to NASA, and likely a factor in his being selected in the first round of scientist astronauts."

And just as Sputnik 1 led to Owen Garriott flying to the United States' first space station, the research he conducted as a result of the world's first satellite started his son, Richard, on the path to follow him into space.

"Interestingly, in the 1970s, at the dawn of the personal computer age, my junior and senior year science fair project was to do a computer graph of radio wave propagation in the ionosphere. And while clearly I had help with the mathematics from my dad, my work was likely some of the first such simulations done, as it was early in the years of possibility, since computers were still so new," observed Richard Garriott.

Garriott's early work in computers eventually led him to developing the longest running computer game series, Ultima, which in turn led him to earn the millions of dollars necessary to buy not just an original Sputnik, but a seat on an upcoming Russian Soyuz rocket to launch him to the International Space Station. When he reaches space next fall, he will be the first second generation American astronaut.

"It was great for me to learn of my father's connection to Sputnik and he too got pleasure from knowing I had acquired one of the original duplicates," reflected Garriott, "even if we both heard about it many years late!"

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#2. The Next Best Sputnik

In the United States, when NASA is done using a spacecraft for exploration, the agency offers the vehicle-turned-artifact to the Smithsonian Institution as the nation's appointed custodian of national treasures.

In Russia, more often than not, used space hardware of historical value is returned to the contractor that built the craft for use by the Russian space agency. And because those same contractors were at one time all part of the government under the Soviet Union, they are also today the curators for the former communist country's artifacts.

Of course, that is assuming the spacecraft to be returned actually returns intact from space.

Sputnik 1 never made it to a museum for display, so the world has had to settle for mock-ups and replicas of the first satellite (as this countdown has illustrated). Most of these models have copied the silver sphere with its four whisker antennae extended, but have left the inside of the satellite to illustrations and imagination.

So where does one go to see how Sputnik worked? Why Russia, of course. But not just anywhere in Russia; to find the next best Sputnik to the real thing, you need to visit the museum at the S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia outside of Moscow.

Formerly the design bureau of its namesake, Energia is the modern day incarnation of the division that designed and built Sputnik 1, among many other record-setting spacecraft. Its museum, which is open by appointment only, exhibits the Vostok capsules that launched the first man and woman into space, a full-scale mock-up of the world's first space station, and the "prototype" for the first earth artificial satellite.

Displayed such that its inside instrumentation is visible, Sputnik earns its reputation as the "simplest satellite." With its outer shell and inner casing separated into their halves, visitors can get what is likely their first real look at the satellite's three major components: the ventilation fan, the power supply with its three silver-zinc batteries, and the radio transmitter that was responsible for the now famous beeps that changed the world.

Taking a closer look though, the simplest satellite is not so simple. Energia's display shows the circuit board for its radio transmitter and the temperature switches for its thermal control system, among its other finer details that made the world's first satellite a success.

Whether all its parts are original, or if some of its internal construction is the result of restoration efforts, Energia's display is one of the most complete Sputniks any where, filling the role of the original that never returned.

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#1. The Sputnik That Started It All

It all began with a beep. But were it not for the only remaining piece of Sputnik 1, it might not have started at all.

Compared to the world's first satellite as a whole, it is not at all impressive. At 23-inches in diameter (closer in size to a beach ball than the often-compared basketball), the finely-polished aluminum Sputnik sphere dwarfs its single surviving part. The satellite's four whisker antennae look even more dramatic when contrasted with their testament to time and history. Taken out of context, this rare artifact would look more at home in a museum gift shop display of key rings than in the museum exhibit where it presently resides.

In context however, the metal arming key, which once sat in between Sputnik's batteries and radio transmitter while the satellite was being prepared for launch, preventing the chance of premature "beep", is the space age equivalent of the rope that moored Columbus' Santa Maria to Spain's dock. Once removed, both signaled a sea of possibilities.

Sputnik's arming key is the property of a private collector, Arthur Dula, an attorney and aerospace entrepeneur, who is also the literary executor for the estate of author Robert Heinlein. Dula loaned the key for display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (bringing this countdown full circle).

Appropriately, the key is part of the Smithsonian's Space Race gallery, surrounded by the spacecraft, spacesuits, rockets, and later satellites that Sputnik inspired. Though diminutive in size, the key is large in stature, deserving of the attention it is paid besides its larger descendants.

Without the key, other than not having a physical remnant of the original Sputnik today, the satellite's batteries could have drained back in 1957, robbing most of the world of their only authentic memory of the Earth's first man-made moon. While many recall spotting the satellite in the sky, they more likely saw Sputnik's larger and as such brighter booster's upper stage. The beeps that they heard, either by shortwave or during re-broadcasts on the radio were of the pioneering Soviet spacecraft.

Despite a few claims to the contrary, Sputnik 1 is known to have completely disintegrated upon reentry on January 4, 1958, less then three months after entering space. By the time of its demise, the Soviet Union had already sent a second satellite into orbit with the first animal on-board. The United States would launch its own first satellite later that same month.

Sergei Korolev, Sputnik's Chief Designer, knew that the world would want to display the satellite, even if the real article was destined to be destroyed. He reportedly once admonished a worker for the lackluster shine on a mock- up. "This ball will be exhibited in museums!" he scolded.

As this countdown has shown, Korolev's prediction came true multiple times over, with many Sputnik replicas now spread across the planet. But there is only one remaining component of Korolev's original creation, the Sputnik that started it all.

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#10: Sputnik 1 replica on display in the Milestones of Flight at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. (NASM/Eric Long)

#9: Lot 241 - "Sputnik" (Christie's)

#9: Sputnik showing double hemisphere construction. (Christie's)

#9: The grand-niece of aviator Waldo Waterman observes Sputnik at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Schultz)

#8: Vintage Sputnik models and music boxes. (collectSPACE)

#8: Commemorative Sputnik postage stamps. (collectSPACE)

#8: Soviet Sputnik medals, medallions and pins. (collectSPACE)

#7: Students on a guided tour of United Nations Headquarters are seen studying the model of the first Sputnik. (United Nations)

#7: Sputnik (replica) inside the United Nations. (Pro-Zak)

#6: Woody shares the cover with Sputnik in "Toy Story 2." (Disney)

#6: Sputnik hits the headlines in "October Sky." (Universal Pictures)

#5: Sputnik displays in Sydney, London, Munich and Dayton, Ohio. (red_tzar, Science Museum, Keks_JaNik, USAF)

#5: Sneak peek: Sputnik flying at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas. (Arizona Model Aircrafters)

#5: Arizona Model Aircrafters' Sputnik for sale on eBay. (AMA)

#4: Still frames from a video showing Pavel Vinogradov (lower right) launching Sputnik 40 into orbit on November 3, 1997. (Roscosmos)

#4: Sputnik 40 with transmitter exposed. (AMSAT-France)

#4: Cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Anatoly Solovyov conduct a spacewalk outside of the Mir space station. Inset: Vinogradov and Solovyov with Sputnik 40 inside Mir. (Roscosmos)

#3: Reflecting on history: Richard Garriott photographs his Sputnik. (Richard Garriott/collectSPACE)

#3: Richard Garriott's Sputnik standing in Britannia Manor before a case of his other space artifacts. (Richard Garriott/collectSPACE)

#3: Richard Garriott poses for a photo, holding his Sputnik satellite at his home, Britannia Manor. (Richard Garriott/collectSPACE)

#2: RSC Energia's Sputnik exhibit near Moscow. (Seiji Yoshimoto)

#2: Sputnik exploded: From the top and bottom. (Seiji Yoshimoto)

#2: The guts of Sputnik: power supply and the radio transmitter's electrical circuits. (Seiji Yoshimoto)

#1: This metal arming key is the last remaining piece of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. (Eric Long/Smithsonian)

#1: A replica of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. (NASA)

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