THE NATION: The 119 Days

Just 119 days after the Russians sent Sputnik I into the skies, tearing a wound in U.S. pride and prestige, the Army's Explorer thundered off the launching pad at Cape Canaveral last week, a symbol of a new kind of U.S. strength. "The U.S.," said President Dwight Eisenhower, "has successfully placed a scientific earth satellite around the earth."

The 119 days between Sputnik I and Explorer were as important to the U.S. as perhaps any similar peacetime span in its history. To a few querulous quidnuncs they were a time for crying out, for attributing to Russian technology a gigantic...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!