Russia marks 50th anniversary of launch of Sputnik

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Moscow, Oct 4 (UNI) Russia marks today the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the world's first-ever satellite, an event which changed the world forever.

A number of ceremonies, dedicated to the launch of Sputnik are being held here, with former Soviet cosmonauts, engineers and officials taking part in events, remembering the start of the space age.

Fifty years ago, on October 4, 1957, the world entered the space age when the then Soviet Union 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 centre in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

The satellite circled the globe for three months, travelling around 60 million km and sending back signals to Earth for 22 days until its transmitter's batteries gave up. The satellite burned up on re-entering the atmosphere of the Earth 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 programmess by the former Soviet Union and the US led to the space race and, subsequently, Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight in 1961, followed by Neil Armstrong's journey eight years later.

Yesterday, Russian and US space chiefs signed agreements to cooperate on unmanned missions that would search for potential water deposits beneath the surfaces of the moon and Mars.

The agreements signed by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and Russian Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov deal with putting Russian instruments on board NASA probes that would be sent to the moon and Mars.

UNI

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