Sputnik: Beep, beep, beep

The sound of the first artificial satellite orbiting the Earth shook the world in October 1957. You couldn’t miss the philatelic echo either, as Sputnik was lavishly celebrated by stamps from the Soviet Union and its allies

Report by Jeff Dugdale


USSR 1957 First Artificial Satellite 40k blue, illustrating Sputnik 1 in orbit around the Earth and effectively hailing the dawn of the space age


It was on October 4, 1957, that the space age dawned. A small metal sphere with four whip aerials was successfully launched into orbit by the Soviet Union, becoming the Earth’s first man-made satellite.

Sputnik 1’s repetitive ‘beep beep’ transmission, which could be picked up not only by professional but also by amateur radio operators, astonished people around the globe. If they looked into the sky in the right place at the right time, they could even see the sunlight reflecting off it.

If everyone was transfixed, many were also alarmed. In the midst of the Cold War, they wondered whether this new technology could be used for espionage, or for delivering weapons.


The USSR’s 1957 40k stamp marking the birth centenary of pioneering rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was given a ‘world’s first artificial satellite’ overprint

Read the full article in Stamp Magazine October 2017

For more great content subscribe to Stamp Magazine today