This Day In History : October 4

1957 United States

Sputnik 1 is launched as the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, marking a pivotal moment in the history of space exploration. Sputnik 1 was the world's first artificial satellite, and its successful launch heralded the beginning of the space age. The satellite was a spherical object, 58 centimeters (23 inches) in diameter, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses.

Also on This Day in History October 4

Discover what happened on October 4 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, October 4
  • 1918 Kenichi Fukui

    Japanese chemist who shared the 1981 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Roald Hoffmann for investigation of the mechanisms of chemical reactions.

  • 1903 John Atanasoff

    John Vincent Atanasoff was an American physicist who was belatedly credited (1973) with developing the first electronic digital computer.

  • 1841 Thomas Corwin Mendenhall

    American physicist and meteorologist who was the first to propose the use of a ring pendulum for measuring absolute gravity.

  • 1903 Cyril Stanley Smith

    British-American metallurgist who in 1943-44 determined the properties and technology of plutonium and uranium, the essential materials in the atomic bombs that were first exploded in 1945.

  • 1916 Vitaly Lazarevich Ginzburg

    He was a Russian physicist and astrophysicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2003 for his pioneering work on superconductivity.

Deaths on This Day, October 4
  • 1948 Arthur Whitten Brown

    Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Arthur Whitten Brown, KBE was a British military officer and aviator who flew as navigator of the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight with pilot John Alcock in June 1919.

  • 1946 Gifford Pinchot

    American forester who as the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service popularized the conservation of natural resources.

  • 1821 John Rennie

    Scottish engineer and architect who designed London Bridge.

  • 1989 Ross F. Nigrelli

    Ross Franco Nigrelli was an American marine biologist who was an expert on diseases of sea life, and was first to discover virus-induced tumour in fish.

  • 1890 Catherine Booth

    Catherine Booth was co-founder of The Salvation Army, along with her husband William Booth. Because of her influence in the formation of The Salvation Army she was known as the 'Mother of The Salvation Army'.


Mexico becomes a republic after adopting a new constitution

Mexico became a republic after adopting a new constitution on October 4, 1824. The constitution established the United Mexican States, replacing the previous monarchy and laying the foundation for a federal republic. This change marked the end of the First Mexican Empire and the beginning of a new era in Mexican governance, with a focus on democratic principles and federalism.

World's first artificial satellite launched

The world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. This event marked a significant milestone in human history, as it was the first time that humanity had successfully launched an artificial object into Earth's orbit. Sputnik 1's launch initiated the space age and sparked the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War era.

Lesotho gains independence

Lesotho gained independence from the United Kingdom on October 4, 1966. This marked the end of British colonial rule in the country, and Lesotho became a sovereign nation.

Courier 1B Launched

Courier 1B was launched on October 4, 1960, and it became the first active repeater satellite to be placed in orbit. This satellite played a crucial role in demonstrating the feasibility of using satellites for telecommunications purposes by relaying signals between ground stations.
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