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IBM Space Science News

Watch the 1st American Newsreel of Sputnik Launch 133

Posted by timothy
from the pronounced-spoot-nick dept.
MMBK writes with this snippet from motherboard.tv: "Fifty three years ago this week, the Russians won the space race – or one of its laps – by successfully launching the Sputnik satellite into orbit. This newsreel, the first to report on the launch, recycles older animation about geosynchronic orbits, since all film footage was kept secret (note the very un-Soviet IBM logo on one of the massive computers)."
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Watch the 1st American Newsreel of Sputnik Launch

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  • Respect (Score:3, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:35PM (#33842988)

    I gotta admit begrudging admoration of the Russians for this one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about for the first living creature in space? Or the first man in space? Or the first woman in space? Or the first space walk? Or the series of Moon, Venus and Mars landers? Or the automated Moon sample return mission?

      If you have a real grasp of the history of the Space Race, you need a lot more than a "begrudging admoration" for the Soviets.

      Have you read "Space Race" By Deborah Cadbury? You should. Then you should add "War in 2080" to your list.

      • by painehope (580569)

        What's so different between putting a man and a woman in space? I could see the "first child conceived in space" or the "first birth in space", but why does the (astro|cosmo)naut's gender matter in this context?

        Oh, yeah, I forgot. If a "man" (which can refer to either a male or female when used to refer to the species collectively) goes to space, or the moon, or Uranus, it's not fair until we get a woman up there too. /. should run an "Ask Slashdot" article (or at least have a poll) about the extent to w

        • by dbIII (701233)
          It is just another "first", just like "first American in space", but in each case it is a major exercise with more aims than just being first.
        • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @12:44AM (#33843454)

          What's so different between putting a man and a woman in space? I could see the "first child conceived in space" or the "first birth in space", but why does the (astro|cosmo)naut's gender matter in this context?

          I dare you to ask your mother, aunt, or grandmother that question.

        • If a "man" (which can refer to either a male or female when used to refer to the species collectively) goes to space, or the moon, or Uranus, it's not fair until we get a woman up there too.

          Must... resist... Uranus... joke...

        • I could see the "first child conceived in space" or the "first birth in space", but why does...

          AFAIK, space is everywhere. All children were conceived and born in space. Oh, but you probably meant "outer space." But there is a concept we all have considered at one time or another... known as sex in zero-gravity. I would think gender matters in that context.

        • by rts008 (812749)

          I could see the "first child conceived in space" or the "first birth in space"...

          Well, I'll agree that the "first child conceived in space" might be interesting, I for one do not want to be on the spacecraft when her 'water breaks' for the "first birth in space".
          I can't even imagine all the problems caused by that event in zero-gee! Yuck!

          I hope none of that splashes into your bourbon. ;-)

          • by sznupi (719324)

            Birthing pod.
            Which, considering some traditional ways of ending the presence of humans, could bring few interesting thoughts / something about "life & full circle" on one hand, and big shift for humanity on the other (because ways of body disposal might very well be different after all, not traditional anymore)

            Or it will just happen in semi-normal conditions thanks to centrifugal "gravity" (it might indeed be required for human growth; surely there were some experiments with mice? A small colony of them

        • by whrde (1120405)

          You have no idea about either the politics of space programs or sexism.

          Sending things into space has an enormous impact on society. To the Soviet society (where everyone including women were "workers" as opposed to only paying and recognising half of society based on their "scientific difference") cosmonauts were an extremely important inspiration (especially for children, including girls).

          It may be "irrelevant crap" to you, but in our gendered society and in the Soviet's slightly less gendered society, wom

        • by Grygus (1143095)
          I suspect the barriers to a woman becoming an astronaut are higher; if nothing else, societal pressures would almost preclude the option for most American girls. Perhaps being able to meet the physical requirements are more rare in women, as well; I don't know. At any rate, if it's harder for a woman to become an astronaut then it's a bigger deal when she makes it, isn't it? And when she does make it, it's bound to be reported; people love an underdog story.

          In addition, in our society woman have historic
      • by sznupi (719324)

        This one's nice too:

        How about having a few decades of experience with operating a manned spacecraft essentially capable of beyond-LEO operation? Soyuz was actually the first spacecraft to carry macroscopic living creatures (most notably - turtles :p ) beyond LEO (around the Moon, to be exact) and bring them back safely (via the more complex profile of skip reentry), on a Zond 5 mission.

        If you have $100 million, you can get yourself a ride [spaceadventures.com] (those are the folks so far responsible for all private orbital fligh

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Have you read "Space Race" By Deborah Cadbury?

        There was also an excellent docudrama [imdb.com] done of this book. Sadly, it only aired a few times in the U.S. (on the National Geographic channel) and isn't available on video in the U.S. (only in Region 2). There is a real animosity in the U.S., institutional or otherwise, to anything which presents the space race from any other perspective than NASA's (and even the NASA documentaries in the U.S. tend to ignore completely or downplay significantly the contributions o

    • by mortonda (5175)

      Heh, I was wondering if anyone else spotted that.

    • by RichiH (749257)

      > I gotta admit begrudging admoration of the Russians for this one.

      Why the grudge? They were better and faster so they won that part. Though I suggest you don't read up on who put actual rovers onto the Moon, Venus & Mars first. That might disturb your tiny slice of USA-centric knowledge & feelings even more.

      The fact that you can't seem to spell admiration makes your post even more amusing.

  • Its a good thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:39PM (#33843000) Journal

    Actually, I have always thought that the Soviets getting a satellite into space first was a good thing, as an American of 45 years. It put the fear of ungod into the American military complex to get into space, which ended up netting more good science than simply building bigger and bigger bombs. It also created a huge demand for science, and boosted the desire of teenagers to enter the science field. Nothing like fear to motivate a country into investing into science.

    Being raised during the cold war in a lifer military family might color my perspective, but a lot of good things came out of the cold war. One of them is the internet, which might have taken much longer to develop if not for the fear of Soviet ICBMs, reinforced by that humble little beeping satellite named Sputnik.

    • by Keruo (771880)

      but a lot of good things came out of the cold war. One of them is the internet

      I sometimes think how the world would work if there weren't the internet we know of today.
      It's amazing how hard it would be to do some tasks that we consider trivial today.
      Voice line telephone networks would be much more heavily used compared to what those are today.

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:51PM (#33843080) Journal

        Or more scary is the internet could have started as a purely commercial venture. Imagine if it had not existed, and AOL had created their own version of the internet. It is kind of what they were trying to do before the open internet kicked their butts. You would have several private nets (like in the 80s) and eventually, the big ones would buy out the small ones. You would have MUCH less content, as the price to enter the market with a website would be dictated by singular corporate interests. Most important is the fact that Free Software wouldn't be as far as it is now, with a more limited distribution method.

        The only reason that the internet is as open as it is now is the US govt. was naive enough to not know what it could really be. Otherwise, they would have tried to control it more.

        • by Keruo (771880)
          Microsoft tried the "internet as a commercial venture" but luckily the real internet caught on instead the MSN that was shipped with windows 95.
          You're spot on about the content. That's what made internet what it is today.
          Content seems to be driving other industries aswell. It seems like it's irrelevant if you can actually make calls with current smartphones, but oh boy! if they can't run the fart app of the week.
          • The original MSN was for the most part, an AOL style service with its own interface. They did try "exclusive" websites later on though, like the original startrek.com

            Nitpick: Its obvious whoever captured this video didn't use a time-base corrector on the VCR output.

        • Or more scary is the internet could have started as a purely commercial venture. Imagine if it had not existed, and AOL had created their own version of the internet. It is kind of what they were trying to do before the open internet kicked their butts. You would have several private nets (like in the 80s) and eventually, the big ones would buy out the small ones. You would have MUCH less content, as the price to enter the market with a website would be dictated by singular corporate interests.

          What do you

          • by seifried (12921)
            Facebook runs on Linux and can be used from any reasonably standards compliant web browser (all of which are free and many of which are open source) so what's your point exactly?
          • by Ash-Fox (726320)

            ...... The "walled garden" of the iOS is bigger than Linux. iOS tops Linux ...... Facebook has 500 million active users, Steam 25 million ......

            I've been able to use Facebook and Steam on Linux for years. I don't get your point.

        • There _were_ several commercial internets (small 'i') - CompuServe, AOL and so on.

          There were also free noncommercial global networks, FidoNET was the largest one.

          So no, Internet could have happened even if it was purely commercial.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by jcr (53032)

        >I sometimes think how the world would work if there weren't the internet we know of today.

        We'd have an internet based on some protocol other than TCP/IP.

        -jcr

      • by sznupi (719324)

        You wouldn't be thinking of those tasks, wouldn't be doing them, wouldn't miss them. Generally, it would be just life as usual.

        In many places people remember such times a bit more vividly. Like in ex-Soviet block, where the net access became reasonably available only during the last decade, and large portions of societies aren't plugged in almost at all; or so called developing nations in general.
        Even if it's there, it's often somewhat different from what we are used to - for example access via mobile phone

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have no way of knowing that the story I'm about to tell is true, so please take it with a grain of salt.

      Supposedly, Eisenhower's goal was to have the Soviets make the first space flight to establish an international norm that overflying countries while in orbit was not a violation of territorial airspace. Once the Soviets had orbited a satellite over the US, they could hardly object to the US orbiting a satellite over them.
      • It is hard to believe that Eisenhower would worry so much about international norms as to let the Soviets win the space race, especially given the fact that the US had been violating their airspace using high-altitude U-2s on a regular basis for quite a while by then (until the Soviets shot one down in early 60s).

    • Actually, I have always thought that the Soviets getting a satellite into space first was a good thing, as an American of 45 years. It put the fear of ungod into the American military complex to get into space

      Well, the problem with 'your thought' is that is has nothing to with 'the facts' - because in reality, America was already trying to get into space.

      It also created a huge demand for science, and boosted the desire of teenagers to enter the science field. Nothing like fear to motivate a country

    • by houghi (78078)

      The scary thing is that fear is the motivator. Then it was the ruskies who wanted to take over the free world, now it is the terrorist.

      Also do not forget that although that fear brought spaceflight, it also brought mccarthyism.

  • That sure looks like a cartoon of an IBM 650, a "low-cost" business computer of the late fifties. Why it's in this movie, I have no clue.
    • by eln (21727)
      Probably because they asked the artist to draw a computer with blinky lights (to signify something high tech) and that was the only computer he had ever seen. After all, it's not like your average person encountered 50 different computers a day back then like we do now.
      • by Tablizer (95088)

        Probably because they asked the artist to draw a computer with blinky lights (to signify something high tech) and that was the only computer he had ever seen. After all, it's not like your average person encountered 50 different computers a day back then like we do now.

        A computer salesman from the 70's once told me about how his company release a new model of minicomputer that was about the size of a picnic cooler, but was about 1/4 the size of the prior model. However sales were poor until one of his colle

      • They were talking about recieving the signal so I suppose the computer represented the tracking systems in the west. It means don't worry, Uncle Sam and Big Blue are keeping an eye on the situation.

  • by Jeeeb (1141117) on Friday October 08, 2010 @11:04PM (#33843128)
    After watching the video I don't think the IBM computer shown is meant to be in a Soviet facility. They talk about how the sound being played at the time is an actual signal from the Sputnik, which makes me think that it's meant to be an American signals interception facility. Maybe even with the IBM logo added to make that clear

    Either that or they weren't immune to product placement in the 50's ;) Either way an awesome video.
    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      After watching the video I don't think the IBM computer shown is meant to be in a Soviet facility.

      Perhaps not (I couldn't get the vid to play, at least not without letting a bunch of unknown shit past NoScript) but it's well known that IBM's Continental division sold computing devices to the Nazis during WWII. I also have it on good authority that Mitsubishi Zeros wore American rubber on their landing gear during the war and this was no secret at Goodyear.

      Considering these aren't the only things I've learned that have implications which fly in the face of what we've been taught in the history books, it

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      It was stock footage for explaining what "orbit" is.
    • by RichiH (749257)

      Or it was simply a ton of work to draw stuff by hand so they re-used pics where they could.

    • You're right - the signal was intercepted and Sputnik's position was tracked by the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitrack [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Vanguard [wikipedia.org]

      Vanguard, which could have been launched before Sputnik, wasn't a national priority until after the launch of Sputnik.

  • Personally I find the introduction to a Roger Ramjet cartoon more informative (and with better music), though

    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      Sorry no mod points future Mr. +5 funny. They referenced it as a moon 3 times. And appropriately enough, it is no moon. Lucky for us, it is also not a Death Star. The Soviets were pretty cool on not ending all life on Earth though so I doubt they'd have fired the Death Star at us either. If it wasn't for terrorists threatening to blow civilization apart, we could live happily right now. I guess world hunger, disease and lack of quality education kinda would hold the world back from a full scale peace
    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      I find your lack of original conversation disturbing.
  • One has to understand the the USSR scientific potential was the one of the former Soviet Union countries plus current Israel.

    The stupid "socialist" enthusiasm was a result of an ugly massive civil war, which had roots in 19th century's deep social conflicts.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Yeah, those pesky Russians never really brought anything of use to the world, we would notice by now... [wikipedia.org] (FYI, Soviet satellite states were often shielded / prohibited from conducting certain types of activities)

      • Actually, while the USSR had many inventions, space access was not really one of them. America was much further ahead, which is why we made it to the moon first. Soviets basically developed things along a similar line to America, but would push the tech PRIOR to being ready. Of course, the do get to say that they had some first. But things like claiming that they invented the space suit first, is total balony. Just that they used it a couple of months earlier. Heck, even sputnik was pretty worthless [wikipedia.org], while
        • by sznupi (719324)

          Ah, yes, it's good to be able to convince oneself that only the "concluding success" counts (do you not realize how one can dismiss anything with "they were just using such things earlier"?); I'm sure it also explains how both sides lost approximately the same number of astronauts while rushing...

          Sputnik 1 provided valuable data about micrometeorite environment, ionosphere and upper atmosphere densities. Sputnik 2 (second Earth satellite launched) actually detected Van Allen belts, but Red Scare was in full

    • One has to understand the the USSR scientific potential was the one of the former Soviet Union countries plus current Israel.

      The stupid "socialist" enthusiasm was a result of an ugly massive civil war, which had roots in 19th century's deep social conflicts.

      ... and is still going on, even today.

  • that the narrator use the word "intercontinental" to describe the first stage. A hint at it also being capable of dropping a nuke on US soil?

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      They already had ICBMs at this point, and a lot of the first space rockets were just re-purposed missiles. Don't forget, the space programs of both the US and the USSR were boostrapped with captured German scientists and technologies. We road to space in the wake of the V2.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        My knowledge of the time in question is rusty, but how much public knowledge was there about ICBMs at the time of sputnik? I thought nuclear delivery was still focused on bombers around that time (tho both sides would have had rocket programs considering the demonstrated ability of V2 during the recent war).

        I just wonder what the point was of including such a word in the narration, as being intercontinental have very little to do with getting satellites into orbit (tho everything to do with delivering somet

  • I know that Americans feel it dents their national pride to admit it, but the Russians categorically won the space race.

    America achieved only a single victory - the first man on the moon - and then decided that was enough so just sat back from there.

    However, the Russians had already done all the rest - first animal, first orbit, first man, first woman, first moonwalk.

    So if you're happy as a nation to believe you 'won' because of a single victory, go ahead.

    However, the rest of us know the truth.

    • by kaltsbert (724232)

      ... first moonwalk.

      Perhaps first spacewalk? Leave something for the Americans too :-) It's a shame that the Soviet film material from the era is so much worse than what NASA was able to provide. It would be interesting to see quality footage from the Soviet accomplishments too.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        And who knows how much of nice material neglected, forgotten, lost...

        Some of those [mentallandscape.com] are quite nice; but I guess if people remember anything, it's virtually only Apollo-era photos shot with medium-format Hasselblad cameras. Quick search also gave eerie Phobos pictures [strykfoto.org]. And Soviets knew how to make a good camera, Zenit line was quite nice.

    • I know that Americans feel it dents their national pride to admit it, but the Russians categorically won the space race.

      Yes, but it is a good example of winning the battles and losing the war. Where are the USSR now? Gone and surrounded by former Warsaw pact nations that have sided with Western Europe if not actively feuding with Russia. Even the USSR is no longer as they are just "the Russians" as former parts of the USSR have separated to form even more hostile counties on their borders. There were only t

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      It's just a shame the Soviets themselves were so secretive about their own program. They had a lot to be proud of, and yet kept so much of their program a state secret (or under-publicized). NASA, by contrast, were complete media whores who made it sound like they invented the very concept of rockets. This created the popular misconception that lasts to this day in the U.S. that the Soviets were somehow lagging behind the Americans for the entire space race (when, with the sole exception of the moon landing
  • >> Maybe even with the IBM logo added to make that clear
    > Either that or they weren't immune to product placement in the 50's

    Check out _Ozzie_and_Harriet_ pushing Coke, or
    _I_Love_Lucy_ pushing cigarettes.

  • Sputnik wasn't about "winning the space race". It's what started it. Could have said "the Soviets got off the starting blocks first." Before that, the US was at the snack bar, not aware that a race was about to begin.

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