Spacemen are from Mars, Economist
"Fifty Years ago the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite. Sputnik burst into orbit on October 4th 1957, in the midst of the cold war. It was a surprise to the world, a shock to many Americans, and the starting gun for the space race between the superpowers. Thereafter, America vied with the Soviet Union for supremacy in aerospace's equivalent of "mine's bigger than yours", as successively taller rockets lobbed larger payloads further afield."
"... 50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West. Instead, the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the space age."
Sputnik's Legacy, James Oberg
"The 'flight revolution' of my grandfather's lifetime, a transportation technology quantum leap, brought peoples and places on Earth much closer together. It changed exotic foreign lands and their inhabitants into neighbors, for good or for ill. It changed each person's own native land into just another country, one of many. Sure, the communication revolution helped too, but airplanes were "the point of the spear"."