November 1st Meeting: The Sputnik Years

Meeting Time: 7:00-9:30 PM.
The next meeting of the Billerica Amateur Radio Society (BARS) is Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

Guest: Kelly Beatty, Sky and Telescope Magazine

Topic:The Sputnik Years

When a Russian rocket lofted Sputnik 1 into orbit on October 4, 1957, the worldwide reaction was a mixture of awe and apprehension. The Space Age — and the Space Race — had begun. Here in the U.S., scientists knew the launch was coming because their Soviet counterparts had told them to expect it. But to an American public that had grown accustomed to our country’s growing global primacy, the orbiting of Sputnik 1 was a traumatic wake-up call.

The launch came during the depths of the Cold War, when Dwight Eisenhower occupied the White House and America’s space interests were almost entirely focused on building rockets powerful enough to deliver nuclear warheads over intercontinental distances. NASA did not yet exist, and the notion of traveling into orbit — let alone journeying to the Moon and beyond — seemed little more than science fiction.

Yet, by then, visionaries had not merely dreamed of space flight but had laid the foundation for making it a reality. The mathematical and engineering breakthroughs achieved by Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy (a Russian), Hermann Oberth (a German), and Robert Goddard (an American) proved that rocketing away from Earth was entirely possible.

This retrospective by a veteran, award-winning science journalist will explore the events leading up to Sputnik’s launch exactly 60 years ago, the political fallout that led to America’s response (Explorer 1), the formation of NASA, and the crucial but largely forgotten role that everyday citizens played in tracking the first satellites.

A resident of Chelmsford since 1985, Kelly Beatty has been explaining the science and wonder of astronomy to the public since 1974. An award-winning writer and communicator, he specializes in planetary science and space exploration as Senior Contributing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine. He holds a Bachelors degree from the California Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University.

Beatty enjoys sharing his passion for astronomy with a wide spectrum of audiences, from children to professional astronomers, and you’ll occasionally hear his interviews and guest commentaries on The Weather Channel and National Public Radio. During the 1980s he was among the first Western journalists to gain firsthand access to the Soviet space program. Asteroid 2925 Beatty was named on the occasion of his marriage in 1983, and in 1986 he was chosen one of the 100 semifinalists for NASA’s Journalist in Space program.
Our meeting location in Chelmsford is at:

Chelmsford Bible Church
128 Gorham St. (Route 3A)
East Chelmsford, MA 01824

Please park in back and enter by the rear door. A map is on the sidebar.

The Billerica ARS encourages members to get on the air! (GOTA). There are many nice weekends between now and next winter that could be spent sitting in the sun and showing off radio to the public.”

Bring a friend (or aspiring ham) and join us!

Note: The weekly BARS Wednesday night net will not meet on this evening because of the club meeting. Members are encouraged to get on Billerica (147.12) on their way to/from the meeting instead.

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