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Sputnik * Satellite launched by the USSR that began the space race in 1957.
Explorer was the US's first satellite. Launched Feb. 1, 1958 months after the Russians launched Sputnik. The U.S. is pretty much second in everything with respect to the Russians, except landing on the moon. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, and he was also a Russian. A cute one, too, I might add.