Sputnik Program


On May 14, 1960, the Sputnik 4 was launched into space by the Soviet Union. The Sputnik program was a series of five space missions by the Russians, the first ever, of their kind. Sputnik 1, 2, and 3 launched previously, beginning on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 was a bare-bones satellite designed to orbit the Earth and measure the density of the atmosphere. It was in space for 22 days.

The Sputnik 2 launched on November 3, 1957, was the first spacecraft to carry a living thing, a dog named Laika. The dog apparently died just hours into the flight. Sputnik 2 returned to Earth after 162 days in orbit.

The Sputnik 3, designed to study the pressure and composition of the atmosphere at its upper most levels, was launched May 15, 1958. Sputnik 3 burned into the atmosphere on April 6, 1960.

Sputnik 4 was designed to study manned space flight. It was launched on May 14, 1960. It included instruments to determine if humans would be able to survive space travel. Sputnik 4 orbited the Earth for four days and was scheduled to return. Due to technical malfunctions, the spacecraft returned to atmosphere on September 5, 1960 in pieces to be found throughout the World.

Sputnik 5 was the first space flight of living creatures that returned to land unharmed. It was launched August 19, 1960. The flight carried two dogs, two rats, 40 mice, various plants, and a human mannequin named “Ivan”. Sputnik 5 orbited the earth for one day and returned to land with all passengers unharmed. The Sputnik program was the first of its kind, leading Russia to become the first country to get a man into space with the Vostok program, which followed Sputnik.