The Sputnik Shock
When the Soviet Union succeeded in launching a satellite into orbit in 1957, the world reacted with fear and fascination in equal measure. Western scientists were stunned. In the Eastern Bloc, the Sputnik launch was celebrated as proof of Soviet technological superiority. A documentary about the Space Race, and the myths and realities of the first manmade Earth satellite.
On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union opened the door to a new era: Sputnik 1, a metal sphere 58 cm in diameter and weighing 83 kg hurtled around the globe at cosmic speed. It was a sensation. US President Eisenhower struggled to project calm, continuing to play golf and stating that he was not frightened in the least by the little metal ball in space. But the Sputnik hype had already got out of hand. How were nations to deal with the historic event? For years the Soviet Union had developed its rocket science in secret and let the Americans believe that they were leading in the race into the cosmos. Before Sputnik, many in the West had viewed the Soviet Union as a developing country, economically and scientifically backward. And now it was soaring into space? Inconceivable! The Soviets suddenly seemed to be taking the technological lead. In the West, the mood fluctuated between panic, fascination and disillusionment. The Sputnik Shock is a film about winners and losers, about the background to and secrets of the first expedition into space. And it tells the story of the man who made Sputnik possible: Chief Designer Sergei Korolev. The world only learned his name after his death, when his ashes were interred with state honors in the Kremlin wall in 1965. Attempts to nominate him for a Nobel Prize had been blocked by the secretive leaders in the Kremlin