Sputnik Mania | 2008
At the height of the Cold War, Sputnik almost provoked World War III, were it not for a private agreement between two ex-generals. Historians say that there have been three great shocks that brought America to its knees: the events of Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the launch of Sputnik. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, the U.S. and the USSR embarked on a collision-course missile and space race. Americans' initial thrill and awe quickly turned to panic, fear and anxiety as leading politicians and the media whipped the public into an escalating mass frenzy. Perceived as evidence of an imminent attack by the Soviet Union, Sputnik not only created a deep fear among the American public, but also ushered in an era of remarkable educational, social and scientific developments with profound political and national-security implications for the United States and fascinating parallels to the present.