The year is 1957 and the space race is underway.  The major powers around the world, mainly the Soviet Union and the United States, are all striving to develop the technology that will allow them to reach outer space. The Soviet Union’s Academy of Sciences prime aim was to beat the Americans into Earth orbit and their top secret Sputnik project was about to reward all the efforts put in by a generation of scientists and engineers.  Sputnik 1 was soon to be placed atop an R-7 rocket and launched into a low orbit to become the first artificial Earth Satellite. But what if they hadn’t been the first?


Sputnik was fired into a low earth orbit on the 4th of October 1957 atop an R-7 rocket


Some months before the Sputnik launch the US were conducting nuclear tests


The Pascal I underground test caused a huge blue flame to erupt from the desert


Very high speed cameras were used to film the tests


The Horizons spacecraft


People wonder what became of the manhole cover and if anything was written on it?


Images under a Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the Federal Government of the United States, NNSA and NASA.