SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Orbit of Sputnik 1. Diagram showing the Earth orbits possible for different spacecrafts. Sputnik 1, the first spacecraft ever to reach Earth orbit, was launched on 4 October 1957 by the Soviet Union. It followed an elliptical orbit ranging from 6586 to 7310 kilometres from the Earth's surface. Each orbit took 96 minutes. The following year, Sputnik 1 burned up as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on 4 January 1958. Diagram published in 1957 in a Soviet aviation magazine Sovetskaya Aviatsia (Soviet Aviation).
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