Sputnik surprise

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first human-made object to orbit Earth. The successful launch, coupled with the failure of two earlier U.S. attempts, shocked the United States. The country responded by creating new programs for research into military and aerospace technology, such as NASA, and by increasing government spending on scientific research and education. Concern that the Soviets had beaten Americans into space sparked a revolution in science education and led to more federal involvement in education in general.