Overheard 54 years ago 1 km from a launch pad somewhere deep within Kazakhstan:
“This is great day for Mother Russia! We have beat the capitalist pigs into space. We have proven that the soviet way, the way of the people, is superior to the dogs of the west!”
OK, I made that up, but it’s quite likely that when the Sputnik rocket, a modified R-7 Semyorka ICBM, successfully delivered the PS-1 payload into orbit this is what the Party faithful declared. That shiny sphere, with its second stage covered in mirrors so all the world could see it trailing the little satellite, would send fear into the hearts of Cold War Americans. They had beat us! How could that be?
[Image Credit: Public Domain]