On October 4th, 1957, in the heart of the Cold War, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1 into an elliptical low orbit. For folks in the United States at the time, it was terrifying. The Soviets could be observing our most intimate secrets, or weaponizing space, or finding alliances with powerful extraterrestrial races.
From The New Yorker:
“The launch of Sputnik 1 had a ‘Pearl Harbor’ effect on American public opinion,” the nasa historian Roger Launius has written. “It was a shock, introducing the average citizen to the space age in a crisis setting.”
And it was announced, in at least one instance, by a cartoon:
Anxiety surrounding Sputnik led to some other odd cultural responses, including this cartoon from Mel-O-Toons about Omnicron, Nudnicron, and Sputnik:
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