×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited
5

Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

(OP)
On this day in 1957 I was in mad scramble to try to locate the frequency that Sputnik was transmitting on. I was the section chief in a intercept unit stationed in Japan and we had been tasked to record any an all transmissions from any satellites or any attempt to put same in orbit. We had set up some very elaborate equipment to receive signals on the agreed on International Geophysical Year frequency of 172 MHz, no mean feat in those days.

We had witnessed the launch earlier and based on this we knew a Satellite was in orbit, but where and what was it doing. We witnessed the first orbit with no contact on the agreed frequencies. The second orbit passed also with no joy. At this time I got a call from our Ham station about a strange signal around 20 MHz. We caught Sputnik's signal on the next orbit. I had over 50 receivers tuned to the 20 MHz band and another 50 searching the airways to find the a second signal if any. By time of the 4th orbit we had gotten organized and brought all our signal information people on line. We were some what taken aback that there was no intelligence on the carrier wave. After a 32 hour stint in operations a few us gathered in NCO club to discuss the implications of preceding events. All of us were vary degrees of space fans and were knowledgeable about the possibility and implications of orbiting satellites for good or bad. We also knew things that were going on behind the scenes that were most secret and wondered how the US would act after the first shot. One of our group who had information not available to the rest of us made the statement "You ain't seen nothing yet, this is just the beginning". It was strange that after such a long shift I couldn't get to sleep just thinking about all the possibilities that had been shown in all the magazines.

I'm very fortunate to have lived long enough to see the start of something big in engineering and development and lived long enough to see a lot of the stuff of science fiction and Dick Tracy come true.


 

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

unclesyd -

Nice post - I appreciate the unique historical perspective you brought here.  

P.S.  I was 2 years old at the time and I think my HAM radio was under repair so I sat out the excitement in my crib.  baby



RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

Well, I was only 2 months old, and oblivious to the whole affair, but this is a good story.  

NPR had an imteresting remembrance from people that were involved on the other side.  They were so wrapped up in doing the missile race thing that it was several days before they realized the historical significance of their achievement.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

I think some Uk school science group were said to be the only ones able to track Sputnik and its Bleeps.
I'll have to look that up in the morning.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

Kettering Grammar school - I think.

Dave-in-Oz

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

In 1957 with the age of 7 years I lived in a small village of Portugal. At night through the radio news everybody was invited to go to the street and look to the sky to see that running star called Sputnik. With the eyes in the sky I still remember that lightning point.  


RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

IRstuff, we should be the same age. I have born in August 1957, but my girlfriend in high school was born exactly on 4 October 1957 and we joke with he on this matter.


I needed another 16 years before to enter Amateur radio club winky smile and to be able to monitor signals of satellite repeaters. Unfortunately I was out of the country on 4 October 2007, so I missed opportunity to monitor at least replica signals celebrated 50-th anniversary of Sputnik.
What can I do, I should hope for 100-th anniversary !

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

What i remember about it was, that suddenly groups of the "brighter" kids in the 4th grade were suddenly interviewed & placed in a so-called "rapid-Learners" program. Twice a week, we were herded together with other savants from the local elementary schools & taught algebra & french ( ? ). The problem was , that we "rapid-learners" were required to de brief the " lesser students" when we returned. This set us forever apart from our peers. I went from just a bright kid who enjoyed softball with the guys, to a "krell boy" in one year of school. Can't say I was the better for it. Just another failed government program, in my opinion.

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

It's amazing that German scientists and engineers in Germany, USA, and Russia accomplished so much.

What concerns me is what they are up to in fascist-muslim countries around the world today. I see the fine hand of the Germans working behind the scenes in today's trouble spots.

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

But don't forget Goddard, Silikovsky(?) et al.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

jmw, you mean Tsiolkovski...

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

Thanks,
I was feeling too lazy to go look up the revered fathers of the modern space age....

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

UncleSyd, I always thought you were older than I.  I was hiding under my desk at grammer school upon hearing of Sputnik.  I do remember the (technical-science and math) teachers reactions, however.  I did go out and look at it.  You don't forget your first.

It is interesting to have lived through the age that Sputnik spawned.

My first radio wouldn't pick it up.  It was a crystal set.

rmw

PS: I think that $100 dollar oil is about to be the sputnik of our age.

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

5
(OP)
rmw,
It is inconceivable that you would think that I'm older than you.

I wish that I could have had a more active and direct part of the technology explosion that occurred post Sputnik, but fate deemed otherwise.

My route to beginning of the technology explosion. I could have completed any of several starts and got in the middle of everything.

In 1955 I had completed two years of school under a COOP plan and was supposed to get a Air Force ROTC Scholarship for my last two years. When I went to school for the first quarter of my Junior year and I dropped by the ROTC office to pick up the paper work and hopefully a little stipend I was unceremoniously told that things had changed and scholarships were only available to those that were pilot qualifiable, I wore glasses. I sent the School ROTC commander a little letter after the Russians showed the launch crew that fired the rocket with three of the five wearing glasses. I decided to try to stay at school and in the third week I got my draft notice to report in two weeks. I dropped school, lost my tuition, and in a week reported to the reception center. At the time there was a test called the AFQT (Armed forces Qualification Test) that one had to make a 8 to get into the Military. I scored a 99 out of possible 100 and got pulled out by the ASA (Army Security Agency). Went through basic and was sent to Fort Devens, Ma for evaluation. I took a test administered by IBM and scored extremely well and was asked if I would like to spend 1 year at the IBM training school (computing, I was slightly in the dark) at Endicott, NY. I jumped at the chance and could hardly wait to leave for NY. On the eve of my departure I was told that the Army had changed my orders and someone else was going in my place. I was hung up at Devens with all types of threatening possibilities and with nothing to do I started taking tests again. Took a test using "Esperanto" and was selected to go to the ALS (Army Language School) at Monterrey Ca. Was supposed to take a R-12 (Months) but because of my high test scores it was chopped to R-6, shafted again. With training became a radio intercept operator, Russian and assigned to Kyoto Japan at a fairly large operations base. The Technology explosion really started when I walked in to the operations building and saw over a thousand of the Collins R-390 and R-390A radio receivers were in operation. These receivers were the finest of the vacuum tube receivers with built in crystal frequency calibration which allowed one to crank in a frequency taken from any other receiver without any external recalibration. For the Ham Operators these receivers were hooked to one of 30 Rhombic Antenna, 450 ft on each leg.

rmw it was with this equipment that I was able to listen to and record Sputnik. There were very few receivers outside the Ham Radio Groups and the SWL people that could tune to 20 MHz for the signal.

At this base they were also using numerous IBM sorting machines to some analysis and keep the record keeping on track. The sorting group were always talking about machines in the pipe line that would do the sorting of data, store, and manipulate this data. These machines were computers that were operational in Washington and in the pipe line for the world. The Sputnik episode just kicked all this into high gear and the race brought all the other technology to the forefront.  

One thing that I witnessed was that starting in this time frame that say engineers became more amenable to take chances. You heard the phrase "It can't be done" less and less. The minute someone told you it wasn't possible to do such and such this became the catalyst to do it just to prove it could be done. The space race with the ensuing technology opened new vistas everyday allowing information and technology to penetrate all areas.  

 



RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

I think I am going to add Unclesyd to the 100 famous engineers list.
Unclesyd, let us all know when your biography comes out; you whetted a few appetites out here I can guarantee.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

I'll tell you what I find really amazing (besides Unclesyd's great age and wisdom, and that I can remember this, or anything else, from my time as a schoolboy) is how little impact this anniversary appears to have had within this community and in the real world out there.
This was a pivotal butterfly wing flapping event in history. The sort of key event that time travel stories hark on about; you know, if it didn't bleep, what would that mean? The bleeping was a sort of "Hey! I'm up here and I really work!" No bleep, no story. No NASA, no "One small step for man..." No SKY TV, no Google Earth... (we've yet to see the ramifications of that). Perhaps, without NASA, no transistor? no PCs?
Maybe that is what we need to consider, just how important that little bleeping sound was.
Even more surprising is that more attention seems to be being given to China's "Me too" space launch (but perhaps we should be more concerned here too) and where is the Russian reaction? OK, US sulks, no story, but the former USSR?
Google came up with some slow news day science journal stuff (http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Russia_marks_Sputnik_anniversary_999.html) and the Russian response seems decidedly low key.
All seems to say the same thing, flowers and a monument in a country where "monuments" are cliches.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

jmw
I happened to be on holiday in Moscow on the anniversary and the Russians were making quite a fuss of it.

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

Geoff, then we have the old media sulks at work that we have so little attention given outside Russia, but I do think that little bleep has a profound significance that ought to be more universally recognised.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

I see that some of us here have been connected in some way with radio. I am curious how many Ham radio operators participate here on Eng-Tips.

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

First licensed in 1976, US Advanced class now, not active.

old field guy

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

oldfieldguy, sorry you are not active. CQWW is pening after two weeks smile

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Sputnik, the Sky is Unlimited

In 1954 well before of the Americans Capitain Haddock and Milu have fly to the moon



Luis marques

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login



News


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close