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Sputnik: how a prediction became reality


Sputnik: how a prediction became reality

The birth of the space age and the advances in satellites for communication and navigation.

In 1945, celebrated science fiction author Arthur C Clarke began privately circulating a document which would later be published in the now defunct Wireless World magazine. This document enigmatically known as the 1945 Proposal made predictions about the invention of satellites which were capable of providing means of global communication. Frowned upon by the scientific community and thought of as too advanced for the time period, this paper and its contents was ‘relegated’ to the pages of the science fiction written by its author.

Fast forward to October 1957 – a now historic day in the scientific community – and it becomes clear just how accurate the predictions (and fictionalised inventions) made by Clarke were. On 4th October 1957, Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite was launched. The Soviet Union were responsible for the creation and launch of the satellite which would be credited as the starting point of the space age. Additionally, the launch of Sputnik I began what is known as the ‘space race’ between the USSR and the USA and was a point of debate and conversation about the possibilities for space exploration and science investment.

Sputnik I was a technical achievement which changed everything regarding space progress. As a result of the launch, NASA was formed and valuable information about the atmosphere of space was gained.

As time technology and knowledge progressed, satellites began to be created which have changed the face of how we conduct a multitude of activities on Earth. Satellites control and produce, among other things, television, cellular phone networks, the internet and the Global Positioning Systems we have on our phones and in our cars. Now it seems almost impossible to imagine a life without satellites.

The historic launch of Sputnik I was vitally important to scientific development, but also to development of the world on a more general level. New channels of communication have been created, new opportunities gained and knowledge expanded for progress.
This is just one more example of the ways in which science fiction has influence over science fact and we cannot wait to see what today’s scifi writers will predict for tomorrow’s scientific advances…