There. Look where I’m pointing. See that moving light?
There it was! We’d already heard the eerie beep-beep-beep on the radio. I expected to hear it when it went by, but it was silent.
We watched it flash across the sky until it disappeared.
The Russians had put the very first artificial satellite in orbit. They’d beaten us to it. They’d conquered space!
They’d launched it on top of their R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile, which was also capable of sending an atomic warhead all the way to the United States.
Meanwhile, our Atlas ICBMs kept blowing up, either on the launchpad or shortly after taking off.
After the Russian triumph with Sputnik, the United States tried to launch its own satellite, using the Vanguard rocket, not the Atlas.
It was a disaster. The first one never got off the ground.
The next one failed a few seconds after taking off.
What if the Russians decided to attack us from outer space? What if they started dropping things on us from the sky?
The space race was on, and we were losing.
The Sputnik song
To the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
Or worse, KABOOM!