On October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the satellite Sputnik into orbit. Sputnik was the first artificial satellite launched by any nation, and was significantly ahead of U.S. efforts to develop a spacecraft and launch system. This disparity frightened American government officials, who worried that future Soviet satellites might include intelligence instruments or weapons. Sputnik’s launch kickstarted the American space effort, heralding the beginning of the Space Race. The competition incited by Sputnik eventually led to dozens of space achievements by both the Americans and Soviets, including the first man in space and the first man on the moon.