Fifty years ago today, the Soviet Union launched the Korabl-Sputnik 2 spacecraft—known as Sputnik 5 in the west—carrying two dogs named Belka and Strelka, along with mice, rats and flies into space. More surprising? Everyone came back alive.
Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Echo 1, history's first passive satellite. NASA's Echo mission began rather poorly. A test launch had exploded so brightly, so spectacularly, that it prompted frightened calls up and down the entire eastern seaboard.