Video: Sputnik Launch – A Look Back from Two Superpowers

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Our Video Sunday feature continues with this look back at the Russian Sputnik launch, which took place fifty three years ago this week. This event set off the space race, and I think the difference between the American and Soviet newsreels is very telling. Be sure to watch for the big IBM computer just for kicks.


Here’s some Rocket Science for you: The original YouTube film was only available with a Russian soundtrack, so I found a rough translation at the Atlantic. Using YouTube’s new automated close-captioning tool, I simply uploaded the translation text file and YouTube put it all together in just a few seconds. You can see the result by playing the movie and clicking on the CC button.

From the translation, praises are sung to the “small moon” that is Sputnik by Chinese poet Dzan Kedzara:

It flies, carrying the flame of the hearts; it
gleams, it shines in crimson-red rays.
Throughout the whole planet, from one end to
another, you can hear its rhytmic signals.

Risen above the Earth’s expanse, it
opened the mystic doors of the
Universe. One moment – and tens of thousands
leagues; it is a flight, a flight of inspired science

Flying amongst the stars, as the
fruit of the Earth dream; sparkling amongst the
dark abyss like a meteor, with nearly thousand verst
height, it calls us to unknown space