History changed on Oct. 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball, about 23 inches in diameter and weighing less than 190 pounds. It took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That 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 and the U.S.-U.S.S.R. space race.