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‘Kaputnik’: America’s Disastrous First Attempt to Launch a Satellite

‘Kaputnik’: America’s Disastrous First Attempt to Launch a Satellite

And no single event epitomizes these desperate early days like Project Vanguard, the United States’ ill-fated first attempt to launch a satellite. In fact, upon hearing news of the Soviet satellite, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower actually breathed a sigh of relief. The Soviets, however, flatly rejected the proposal, not least because at the time they possessed no means of overflying the continental United States. But whatever the cause, the damage was done: the United States’ sense of technological superiority had been shattered. However, this notion is largely the result of the very different way in which the American and Soviet space programs were organized.

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