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{{see also|History of spaceflight}}
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[[File:Sputnik-1.jpg|thumb|130px|The first spacecraft, Sputnik]]
Sputnik was the first [[artificial satellite]]. It was launched into an elliptical [[low Earth orbit]] by the [[Soviet Union]] on 4 October 1957. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments; while the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the [[Space Age]].<ref name="test">[ Walter A. McDougall] "Shooting the duck," ''American Heritage'', Winter 2010.</ref><ref>". . .On October 4, 1957 Sputnik I shot into orbit and forcibly opened the Space Age." Swenson, L, Jr, Grimwood, J. M. Alexander, C.C. ¶¶¶{{Unicode|}} 66-62424</ref> Apart from its value as a technological first, ''Sputnik'' also helped to identify the upper [[Earth's atmosphere#Temperature and the atmospheric layers|atmospheric layer]]'s density, through measuring the satellite's orbital changes. It also provided data on [[radio]]-signal distribution in the [[ionosphere]]. Pressurized [[nitrogen]] in the satellite's false body provided the first opportunity for [[meteoroid]] detection. If a meteoroid penetrated the satellite's outer hull, it would be detected by the temperature data sent back to Earth{{Citation needed|date=March 2011}}. ''Sputnik 1'' was launched during the [[International Geophysical Year]] from [[Gagarin's Start|Site No.1/5]], at the 5th [[Tyuratam]] range, in [[Kazakh SSR]] (now at the [[Baikonur Cosmodrome]]). The satellite travelled at 29,000 kilometers (18,000&nbsp;mi) per hour, taking 96.2 minutes to complete an orbit, and emitted radio signals at 20.005 and 40.002 [[MHz]]
While Sputnik 1 was the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth, other man-made objects had previously reached an altitude of 100&nbsp;km, which is the height required by the international organization [[Fédération Aéronautique Internationale]] to count as a spaceflight. This altitude is called the [[Kármán line]]. In particular, in the 1940s there were [[List of V-2 test launches|several test launches]] of the [[V-2 rocket|V-2]] [[rocket]], some of which reached altitudes well over 100&nbsp;km.
==Past and present spacecraft==
==Past and present spacecraft==
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