History Specials

Season 1 Episode 76

Sputnik Mania

Aired Unknown Nov 29, 2008 on The History Channel
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Sputnik Mania
October 4, 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first man-made object ever to leave the atmosphere and successfully orbit the earth. By the end of that year, nothing was the same. Sputnik spurred us into an arms and space race, and forced the US to pull together an academic army of scientists and engineers. This led to the development of NASA, massive reforms in our education system, and the discoveries that enabled many of the consumer technologies on which we depend today. Sputnik Mania tells the satellite's story from America's point of view. Like today, 1957 was a time of fear. In place of Al Qaeda, dirty bombs, and the war in Iraq, there were the Soviets, hydrogen bombs, and the Cold War. The world's two superpowers were hell-bent on beating one another by any means necessary. The film leads us through the first year following the launch of Sputnik. Paralleling the shocks we felt in the aftermaths of Pearl Harbor and September 11, Sputnik Mania sings the uncannily prophetic song of the past to the tune of the present. It tells a story of great relevance to the issues of the 21st century. As the film's epilogue asks: what will be our next "Sputnik moment" -- the event that drives us to address these and other challenges?moreless
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