Montreal Gazette - Beeping ball signalled start of space race


(Joe Schwarcz) The "beep - beep - beep" sounded innocent enough, but it shook America to its very core. Why? Because it was coming from outer space!

No, the military personnel monitoring radio signals did not pick up a transmission from aliens. This beep was coming from a transmitter placed inside a 23-inch diameter ball made of aluminum, titanium and magnesium. A ball that was orbiting the earth, passing over Washington, D.C., every hour, emitting an irritating signal that sent a clear message: We are here and you are not! As far as the space race went, it seemed the Soviets were off to a flying start! The date was Oct. 4, 1957...