Retrieving Sputnik


Cool, via Fox News:

 In 1970, Marshall Kaplan, then an aerospace engineering professor at Penn State, had a peculiar dream — he wanted to retrieve Sputnik, the world’s first orbiting satellite, from space.

Sputnik had been launched by the Russians in 1957, and by 1970 it was no longer operational. Kaplan wanted to go get it.

NASA had never considered space retrieval before, but it thought it was a good idea. Kaplan got the job, but it didn’t work out — because the time frame was too short. Sputnik, nearing the end of its life cycle, was already about to deorbit — the technical term for what happens when an object circling the Earth gets close enough to be caught in gravity and burned to cinders in the atmosphere.

But that didn’t mean Kaplan needed a new line of work.

In fact, his work was just beginning.

 Have you ever seen the Sputnik launch from 1957? Here’s the footage: