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October 4 2012

The Psychology of Sputnik


Fifty-five years ago today, the Soviet Union launched history's first artificial satellite.

Sputnik was an innocuous satellite; Soviet scientists behind the launch were just happy to successfully put the probe into orbit. But in the United States the reaction was different. The engineering feat very quickly gave way to hysteria and paranoia. President Eisenhower initially downplayed the role of the satellite as a threat to find that he'd grossly underestimated its psychological impact.

The 17 months between July 1957 to December 1958 saw a peak in solar activity.

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