Almost exactly 50 years ago, on 4 October 1957, Sputnik 1, the first satellite, has been launched – rather surprisingly –, heralding the era of space flight.
This aluminium ball’s construction, 58 cm in diameter, wasn’t too complex and done in just four weeks, and the scientific instruments on board were limited to temperature sensors that could also detect a drop in pressure as it would happen if a micro meteor penetrates the casing, whose readings were sent to earth with the famous beeps from the radio transmitters. The political benefit – “Hello Yanks, our strong sockets can reach the orbit (and you too, if necessary)!” – was a little bigger, of course.
If you want to read all this in detail, you can do so e.g. at NASA.