Sputnik 3

Last updated
Sputnik 3
Mission type Earth Science
Operator OKB-1
Harvard designation1958 Delta 2
COSPAR ID 1958-004B
SATCAT no. 00008
Website NASA NSSDC Master Catalog
Mission duration692 days
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer Korolev Design Bureau
Launch mass1,327 kilograms (2,926 lb)
Start of mission
Launch dateMay 15, 1958, 07:12:00 (1958-05-15UTC07:12Z) UTC
Rocket Sputnik 8A91
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Decay dateApril 6, 1960
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Semi-major axis 7,418.7 kilometres (4,609.8 mi)
Eccentricity 0.110932
Perigee 217 kilometres (135 mi)
Apogee 1,864 kilometres (1,158 mi)
Inclination 65.18°
Period 105.9 minutes
Epoch 15 May 1958 07:12:00 UTC
Upper Atmosphere :Composition of the upper atmosphere
Geiger counters :Charged particles
Micrometeoroid detectors :Micrometeoroids
Universal newsreel about the Soviet Union's Industrial Exhibition in 1958 featuring a replica of Sputnik 3

Sputnik 3 (Russian : Спутник-3, Satellite 3) was a Soviet satellite launched on May 15, 1958 from Baikonur Cosmodrome by a modified R-7/SS-6 ICBM. The scientific satellite carried a large array of instruments for geophysical research of the upper atmosphere and near space.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Baikonur Cosmodrome Rocket launch complex in Kazakhstan, used by Russia

The Baikonur Cosmodrome is a spaceport located in an area of southern Kazakhstan leased to Russia.


Stamp Soviet Union-1958-Stamp-0.40. Sputnik-3.jpg

Sputnik 3 was the only Soviet satellite launched in 1958. Like its American counterpart, Vanguard 1 , Sputnik 3 succeeded in making it into orbit during the International Geophysical Year. [1]

Vanguard 1 fourth artificial Earth orbital satellite

Vanguard 1 is an American satellite that was the fourth artificial Earth orbital satellite to be successfully launched. Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to have solar electric power. Although communication with the satellite was lost in 1964, it remains the oldest man-made object still in orbit, together with the upper stage of its launch vehicle. It was designed to test the launch capabilities of a three-stage launch vehicle as a part of Project Vanguard, and the effects of the space environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. It also was used to obtain geodetic measurements through orbit analysis. Vanguard 1 was described by the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, as "the grapefruit satellite".

International Geophysical Year science-cooperation year of 1957-1958

The International Geophysical Year was an international scientific project that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. It marked the end of a long period during the Cold War when scientific interchange between East and West had been seriously interrupted. Sixty-seven countries participated in IGY projects, although one notable exception was the mainland People's Republic of China, which was protesting against the participation of the Republic of China (Taiwan). East and West agreed to nominate the Belgian Marcel Nicolet as secretary general of the associated international organization.


In July 1956, the Soviet Union's OKB-1 completed the preliminary design for the first Earth satellite, designated ISZ (Artificial Earth Satellite). ISZ was known to its designers as "Object D." [2] Design of Object D had begun in January 1956 with intent to launch it during the International Geophysical Year. [3] Object D was planned to be the first satellite launched by the Soviet Union but ended up being the third following delays due to problems developing the extensive scientific experiments and their telemetry system. [4] The new R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile, also known by its GURVO designation 8K71, [5] was ready to launch before Object D was finished. Worried at the prospect of America launching a satellite before he did, Sergei Korolev substituted the relatively simple "Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1" meaning "Simple Satellite 1", or PS-1, which was labeled Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Government, as the first satellite to be launched instead. Sputnik 2 (PS-2) was also ready and launched earlier than Object D.

R-7 Semyorka Intercontinental ballistic missile

The R-7 was a Soviet missile developed during the Cold War, and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 made 28 launches between 1957 and 1961, but was never deployed operationally. A derivative, the R-7A, was deployed from 1959 to 1968. To the West it was known by the NATO reporting name SS-6 Sapwood and within the Soviet Union by the GRAU index 8K71. In modified form, it launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, into orbit, and became the basis for the R-7 family which includes Sputnik, Luna, Molniya, Vostok, and Voskhod space launchers, as well as later Soyuz variants.

Intercontinental ballistic missile Ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,500 kilometres

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery. Similarly, conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs. Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.

Sergei Korolev Ukrainian and Soviet rocket engineer

Sergei Pavlovich Korolev (Russian: Серге́й Па́влович Королёв, IPA: [sʲɪrˈgʲej ˈpavɫəvʲɪtɕ kərɐˈlʲɵf], also transliterated as Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov, Ukrainian: Сергій Павлович Корольов / Serhiy Pavlovych Korolyov; 12 January 1907 – 14 January 1966, worked as the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. He is regarded by many as the father of practical astronautics. He was involved in the development of the R-7 Rocket, Sputnik 1, and launching Laika and the first human being into space.


Sputnik 3 was launched by a modified R-7 Semyorka missile developed for satellite launches, the Sputnik 8A91. [6]

Sputnik (rocket) small carrier rocket

The Sputnik rocket was an unmanned orbital carrier rocket designed by Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Union, derived from the R-7 Semyorka ICBM. On 4 October 1957, it was used to perform the world's first satellite launch, placing Sputnik 1 into a low Earth orbit.

The 8A91 was a transitional design between the initial 8K71 test model R-7 and the operational 8K74, which had yet to fly. Improvements in manufacturing processes were used to reduce the gauge of the slosh baffles in the propellant tanks and cut down on weight. The engines were slightly more powerful and the changes in mass resulted in modifications to the flight plan--the core stage would be throttled down and the strap-ons throttled up 25% prior to their jettison. An interstage section replaced the radio equipment bay at the top of the booster, and the telemetry package was also moved here.

The launch was planned for 20 April, but technical delays meant that several more days were needed. On 27 April, the 8A91 booster lifted from LC-1 and all appeared normal for over a minute into the launch. Around 1 12 minutes, things went awry. The strap-on boosters broke away from the core and the entire launch vehicle tumbled to earth 224 km (139 mi) downrange. Ground crews monitoring radar tracking data from the booster noticed the trajectory angle change to negative numbers, followed by a complete loss of signal. The last data packet received indicated that the booster had flown only 227 kilometers at signal loss.

Telemetry data indicated that abnormal vibrations began affecting the booster at T+90 seconds and vehicle breakup occurred seven seconds later. A search plane located the impact site. It was not clear what had caused the vibrations, but the decision was made to go ahead with the backup booster and satellite. The engines would be throttled down at T+85 seconds in the hope of reducing structural loads. Since the booster did not carry sufficient instrumentation to determine the source of the vibrations, which ultimately proved to be a phenomenon resulting from the propellant tanks emptying, it would end up being a recurring problem on lunar probe launches later in the year.

The satellite had separated from the launch vehicle and was recovered near the crash site largely intact. It was taken back to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for refurbishment, but an electrical short started a fire inside the electronics compartment and it could not be reused.

The backup booster and satellite were launched successfully on the morning of 15 May, specifically chosen as it was the anniversary of the R-7's maiden flight. On the downside, telemetry data indicated that vibration affected the launch vehicle again and it came close to meeting the same fate as its predecessor. Sputnik 3 was an automatic scientific laboratory spacecraft. It was conically shaped and was 3.57 m (11.7 ft) long and 1.73 m (5.68 ft) wide at its base. It weighed 1,327 kg (1.46 tons). The scientific instrumentation (twelve instruments) provided data on pressure and composition of the upper atmosphere, concentration of charged particles, photons in cosmic rays, heavy nuclei in cosmic rays, magnetic and electrostatic fields, and meteoric particles. While The Earth's outer radiation belts were detected during the flight, its Tral-D tape recorder failed, so it was unable to map the Van Allen radiation belt. [7] The Soviets, without full evidence, were "hog-tied". [8] Sputnik 3 reentered the atmosphere and burned up on 6 April 1960. [9]

In physics, a charged particle is a particle with an electric charge. It may be an ion, such as a molecule or atom with a surplus or deficit of electrons relative to protons. It can also be an electron or a proton, or another elementary particle, which are all believed to have the same charge. Another charged particle may be an atomic nucleus devoid of electrons, such as an alpha particle.

Photon Particle of light

The photon is a type of elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic field including electromagnetic radiation such as light, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Invariant mass of the photon is zero; it always moves at the speed of light within a vacuum.

Cosmic ray High-energy particle, mainly originating outside the Solar system

Cosmic rays are a form of high-energy radiation, mainly originating outside the Solar System and even from distant galaxies. Upon impact with the Earth's atmosphere, cosmic rays can produce showers of secondary particles that sometimes reach the surface. Composed primarily of high-energy protons and atomic nuclei, they are originated either from the sun or from outside of our solar system. Data from the Fermi Space Telescope (2013) have been interpreted as evidence that a significant fraction of primary cosmic rays originate from the supernova explosions of stars. Active galactic nuclei also appear to produce cosmic rays, based on observations of neutrinos and gamma rays from blazar TXS 0506+056 in 2018.

In media

Latin alphabet Alphabet used to write the Latin language

The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

Roman numerals Numbers in the Roman numeral system

Roman numerals are a numeric system that originated in ancient Rome and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe well into the Late Middle Ages. Numbers in this system are represented by combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet. Modern usage employs seven symbols, each with a fixed integer value:

Space probe unmanned robotic spacecraft that does not orbit the Earth, but, instead, explores further into outer space

A space probe is a robotic spacecraft that does not orbit Earth, but instead, explores further into outer space. A space probe may approach the Moon; travel through interplanetary space; flyby, orbit, or land on other planetary bodies; or enter interstellar space.

See also


  1. Green, Constance McLaughlin, and Lomax, Milton.. Vanguard a History, Washington D.C., National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1970, p. 219. NASA SP-4202
  2. Siddiqi, Asif A.. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Gainesville, Florida. The University of Florida Press, 2003, p. 176. ISBN   0-8130-2627-X
  3. Siddiqi, Asif A.. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Gainesville, Florida. The University of Florida Press, 2003, p. 149. ISBN   0-8130-2627-X
  4. Harford, James.. Korolev how one man masterminded the Soviet drive to beat America to the Moon, New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997, p. 126. ISBN   0-471-14853-9
  5. Zaloga, Stephen J.. The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword, Washington. The Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002, p. 232. ISBN   1-58834-007-4
  6. Siddiqi, Asif A.. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Gainesville, Florida. The University of Florida Press, 2003, p. 175. ISBN   0-8130-2627-X
  7. Siddiqi, Asif A.. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Gainesville, Florida. The University of Florida Press, 2003, p. 175-176. ISBN   0-8130-2627-X
  8. Harford, James.. Korolev how one man masterminded the Soviet drive to beat America to the Moon, New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997, p. 136. ISBN   0-471-14853-9
  9. "Sputnik 3 - Scientific Laboratory". Robert Christy. Retrieved 2011-06-30.

Related Research Articles

Laika Soviet space dog

Laika was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Laika, a stray mongrel from the streets of Moscow, was selected to be the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on 3 November 1957.

Sputnik 1 first artificial Earth satellite

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable even by radio amateurs, and the 65° inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the Cold War. The launch was the beginning of a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific developments.

Vostok 1 spaceflight of the Vostok programme

Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight of the Vostok programme and the first manned spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA space capsule was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 12, 1961, with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard, making him the first human to cross into outer space.

Sputnik 2 Artificial satellite

Sputnik 2, or Prosteyshiy Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit, on 3 November 1957, and the first to carry a living animal, a Soviet space dog named Laika. Laika survived for several orbits but died a few hours after the launch.

Space Race Competition between the USSR and the USA to explore space

The Space Race refers to the 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for dominance in spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations that occurred following World War II, aided by captured German missile technology and personnel from the Aggregat program. The technological superiority required for such dominance was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, uncrewed space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon.

Zond 5

Zond 5, one of the satellites of the Soviet Zond program, was the spacecraft that in September 1968 became the second ship to travel to and circle the Moon, and the first to return safely to Earth. Zond 5 carried the first Earthlings to reach the Moon, including two tortoises, fruit fly eggs, and plants; these Moon travelers were returned safely to Earth. The Zond spacecraft was a version of the Soyuz 7K-L1 crewed lunar-flyby spacecraft. It was launched by a Proton-K carrier rocket with a Blok D upper stage to conduct scientific studies during its lunar flyby.

Korabl-Sputnik 2 Soviet artificial satellite, first to send animals into orbit and return safely

Korabl-Sputnik 2, also known incorrectly as Sputnik 5 in the West, was a Soviet artificial satellite, and the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. Launched on 19 August 1960, it paved the way for the first human orbital flight, Vostok 1, which was launched less than eight months later.

Kosmos is a designation given to a large number of satellites operated by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. Kosmos 1, the first spacecraft to be given a Kosmos designation, was launched on 16 March 1962.

Vostok programme Soviet human spaceflight project

The Vostok programme was a Soviet human spaceflight project to put the first Soviet citizens into low Earth orbit and return them safely. Competing with the United States Project Mercury, it succeeded in placing the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, in a single orbit in Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. The Vostok capsule was developed from the Zenit spy satellite project, and its launch rocket was adapted from the existing R-7 Semyorka intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) design. The name "Vostok" was treated as classified information until Gagarin's flight was first publicly disclosed to the world press.

The N1 was a super heavy-lift launch vehicle intended to deliver payloads beyond low Earth orbit, acting as the Soviet counterpart to the US Saturn V. It was designed with manned extra-orbital travel in mind. Development work started on the N1 in 1959. Its first stage is the most powerful rocket stage ever built.

Soviet space program organization

The Soviet space program comprised several of the rocket and space exploration programs conducted by the Soviet Union (USSR) from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. Over its 60-year history, this primarily classified military program was responsible for a number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite, first animal in Earth orbit, first human in space and Earth orbit, first woman in space and Earth orbit, first spacewalk, first Moon impact, first image of the far side of the Moon and unmanned lunar soft landing, first space rover, first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth, and first space station. Further notable records included the first interplanetary probes: Venera 1 and Mars 1 to fly by Venus and Mars, respectively, Venera 3 and Mars 2 to impact the respective planet surface, and Venera 7 and Mars 3 to make soft landings on these planets.

Korabl-Sputnik 5 or Vostok-3KA No.2, also known as Sputnik 10 in the West, was a Soviet spacecraft which was launched in 1961, as part of the Vostok programme. It was the last test flight of the Vostok spacecraft design prior the first manned flight, Vostok 1. It carried the mannequin Ivan Ivanovich, a dog named Zvezdochka, television cameras and scientific apparatus.

Zenit (satellite) series of Soviet spy satellites

Zenit was a series of military photoreconnaissance satellites launched by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1994. To conceal their nature, all flights were given the public Kosmos designation.

Luna E-1 No.1, sometimes identified by NASA as Luna 1958A, was a Soviet Luna E-1 spacecraft which was intended to impact the Moon. It did not accomplish this objective as it was lost in a launch failure. It was the first of four E-1 missions to be launched.

Timeline of the Space Race

This is a timeline of first achievements in spaceflight from the first intercontinental ballistic missile through the first multinational human-crewed mission—spanning the era of the Space Race. Two days after the United States announced its intention to launch an artificial satellite, on July 31, 1956, the Soviet Union announced its intention to do the same. Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957, beating the United States and stunning people all over the world.

Voskhod Spacecraft "Globus" IMP navigation instrument

Globus IMP instruments were spacecraft navigation instruments used in Soviet and Russian manned spacecraft. The IMP acronym stems from the Russian expression Indicator of position in flight, but the instrument is informally referred to as the Globus. It displays the nadir of the spacecraft on a rotating terrestrial globe. It functions as an onboard, autonomous indicator of the spacecraft's location relative to Earth coordinates. An electro-mechanical device in the tradition of complex post-World War II clocks such as master clocks, the Globus IMP instrument incorporates hundreds of mechanical components common to horology. This instrument is a mechanical computer for navigation akin to the Norden bombsight. It mechanically computes complex functions and displays its output through mechanical displacements of the globe and other indicator components. It also modulates electric signals from other instruments.


The RD-0109 is a rocket engine burning liquid oxygen and kerosene in a gas generator combustion cycle. It has single nozzle and is an evolution of the RD-0105. It was the engine used on the Vostok Block-E that launched Yuri Gagarin to orbit.

Leonid Alexandrovich Voskresenskiy Soviet rocket engineer

Leonid Alexandrovich Voskresenskiy was a Soviet rocket engineer and long-time associate of famed Chief Designer Sergei Korolev. He served as launch director for Sputnik and for the first manned space flight, Vostok 1. The lunar crater Voskresenskiy is named in his honor.

Soviet rocketry

Soviet rocketry spanned the entire history of the Soviet Union (1922–1991). Rocket scientists and engineers contributed to the development of rocket and jet engine propulsion systems, which were first used for artillery and later for fighter aircraft, bombers, ballistic missiles, and space exploration. Progress was greatly augmented by the reverse engineering of German technology captured by westward-moving troops during the final days of World War II and the immediate period following.