Feeds

Fifty years since Sputnik

Everything changes, everything stays the same

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Fifty years ago today the space age was truly born, as Sputnik sent back its first signals from orbit. Half a century ago, the Soviets launched what would be our first artificial satellite, and set in motion a revolution of technology.

Without Sputnik, Earth orbit would be a much quieter place, and life on Earth would be unrecognisable. Satellite technology is now integral to our lives. It carries the TV news we watch when we wake up in the morning, provides data for weather forecasters, carries phone calls, and even gets us to work, thanks to GPS. Satellites also handle data for our banks, processing credit card transactions. We are utterly dependent on the orbiting bodies.

"The civilisation we live in today is as different from the one that we lived in the mid-1950s as the mid-1950s were from the American revolution," American University public policy professor Howard McCurdy told the Associated Press. "It's hard to imagine these things happening without space. I guess I could have a computer, but I wouldn't be able to get on the internet."

Sputnik also triggered the space race of the 1960s, culminating in the Moon landing. It seems appropriate, in a sort of poetic way, that as Sputnik's half century rolls around we're all heading to the Moon again. Either poetic, or hopelessly depressing that in 50 years, humanity hasn't managed to move on very much at all, for all the little gizmos we have. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.