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see satellite, artificialsatellite, artificial,
object constructed by humans and placed in orbit around the earth or other celestial body (see also space probe). The satellite is lifted from the earth's surface by a rocket and, once placed in orbit, maintains its motion without further rocket propulsion.
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; space explorationspace exploration,
the investigation of physical conditions in space and on stars, planets, and other celestial bodies through the use of artificial satellites (spacecraft that orbit the earth), space probes (spacecraft that pass through the solar system and that may or may not
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(spût -nik) Any of a series of Soviet artificial satellites, the first of which – Sputnik 1 – was the first spacecraft to be placed in orbit. This 58-cm diameter sphere, weighing 84 kg, was launched on Oct. 4 1957; it burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere 92 days later. The orbit had a period of 96 minutes, an apogee and perigee (highest and lowest altitudes) of about 950 km and 230 km, and was inclined at 65° to the equator. Its radio signals were transmitted every 0.6 seconds. It contained few instruments, being intended as a test vehicle. The launching of Sputnik 1 had a profound effect in accelerating America's space program.

Sputnik 2, launched on Nov. 3 1957, was very much bigger. It carried about 500 kg in payload, including a live dog, Laika, which survived the launch, as well as 10 experiments. Sputnik 3, launched on May 15 1958, weighed about 1330 kg and remained in orbit for 691 days.

References in periodicals archive ?
I shall not easily forget the relief I felt when we first saw Sputnik 1 shooing across the sky in good agreement with my prediction.
I found then that the easier and most successful way of observing a Sputnik was to mount a pair of binoculars on a tripod with three axes, one of which permitted tracking along the plane of the orbit.
Less than a month later, on Sunday November 3rd, 1957 (to mark the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution), the Soviet Union launched a second, much larger (1,120lb) satellite, Sputnik II, carrying an 11 lb female dog called Laika (leading the US press to call it Mutnik).
In the New Statesman for October 26th, 1957, meanwhile, Vicky (Victor Weisz) drew Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan as dogs howling at the moon in the shape of Sputnik with the face of Khrushchev.
However, the tone soon changed Thomas Flannery in the Baltimore Sun had Sputnik flashing past a small private plane labelled USA Complacency' whose pilot exclaims:
to a US citizen trying to reach for the panic button as Sputnik races past the window.
The Sputnik programme continued well after the USSR's Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12th, 1961--which itself also occasioned a great many cartoons around the world.
On 2 November the Soviets launched Sputnik 2, a 508-kilogram satellite carrying Laika the dog.
But few American scientists took their Soviet counterparts seriously, even though specimen signals from the planned Sputnik were broadcast by the Soviets months before its launch.
If the Americans had followed Wernher von Braun's advice, they might have outpaced the Soviets long before Sputnik.
The French had been working on a nuclear programme before Sputnik, and exploded their first nuclear bomb in 1960.