caffiend666 sends in an AP article featuring interviews with the old men who launched the first satellite 50 year ago. The story they tell hinges on luck and the drive of one man, Sergei Korolyov, who died in 1966, unheralded in his lifetime. "When Sputnik took off 50 years ago, the world gazed at the heavens in awe and apprehension, watching what seemed like the unveiling of a sustained Soviet effort to conquer space and score a stunning Cold War triumph. But 50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West... 'At that moment we couldn't fully understand what we had done,' Chertok recalled. 'We felt ecstatic about it only later, when the entire world ran amok'... And that winking light that crowds around the globe gathered to watch in the night sky? Not Sputnik at all, as it turns out, but just the second stage of its booster rocket."