Sixty years ago this fall, the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching into orbit Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The beach ball-sized spacecraft was an astounding scientific achievement, one previously thought beyond the reach of Moscow. As Sputnik circled the globe and emitted radio signals detectable by anyone with a short-wave receiver, the American public experienced a crisis of confidence over their country’s standing in the world and its Cold War competitiveness.
We know the rest of the story. American scientists and policymakers were shaken out of the complacent assumption that their technological edge was insurmountable. American government, universities, and industry mobilized for a competition of scientific innovation – and won.
Read the full article in POLITICO.