Fifty years ago, on October 4, 1957, the world entered the space age when the U.S.S.R. won the race to put the first satellite into orbit. The satellite - Sputnik 1 -was launched aboard a Soviet R-7 rocket from what is now the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
The satellite circled the globe for 3 months, traveling around 60 million km (37 million miles), and sending back signals to Earth for 22 days until its transmitter's batteries gave up. The satellite burned up upon reentering the atmosphere on January 4, 1958.
The launch, which came on the 102nd anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered, controlled flight, sent shockwaves around the world. The resulting investment in space programs by the U.S and the U.S.S.R. led to the space race and, subsequently, Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight in 1961, followed by Neil Armstrong's journey into immortality eight years later.