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The Russian satellite moon

On this day in 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite to orbit the planet.

Coming as it did at the height of the Cold War tensions between the USSR and Western nations, including the UK and the US, Sputnik's launch caused quite a stir.

'Dawn of the Space Age' by Gregory R Todd

People speculated about the Soviet Union's technological abilities and there was a degree of panic about what it meant to have a metal sphere orbiting the planet and reporting back to Moscow. One Wikipedia researcher has found that the New York Times published on average 11 articles a day mentioning Sputnik between 6 October and 31 October 1957.

American announcer (Sellers): When news of the new Russian satellite was released on the Sunday, the high-ranking British astronomers were unfortunately away for the weekend. However, the moment they were informed of the phenomena, they immediately continued their weekend holiday.

(from 'The Space Age', Series 8 Episode 6, broadcast 4 November 1957)

If a certain Spike Milligan was worried, he didn't show it. Instead he sang it. 'A Russian Love Song' was released later the same year. It was billed as "The Goons - with Igor Blimey and His Romanoff Café Fred Players, featuring Zym Balist on His Collective Farm".

That's right, comrade Elvis Go on, shake your hips while we listen to the blips Of our glorious Russian satellite moon.

I've listened hard to this to work out who sings what. I think the majority of it is Spike, and it certainly features Minnie Bannister and Eccles. Having listened to a lot of Spike it certainly sounds like him at the start (he's a really good singer!), and I recognise many of his accents. Even the Winston Churchill impression sounds like him.

At 1:50 a policeman enters to tell Eccles off for shooting at the Russian satellite moon out of season. I've no idea who this voice belongs to as it doesn't sound like any of the Goons. Larry Stephens has a writing credit, so maybe it is him in a VERY rare vocal performance? Anyone with an insight please let me know.

The Goons explored the effect of Sputnik at the beginning of November 1957 in 'The Space Age' (Series 8 Episode 6), which we'll get to in due course.

Wallace Greenslade: This is a satellite moon circling the Earth. Bloodnok: The Russians have done that? ... Then what are the Americans doing? Messenger (Milligan): Their nut. Bloodnok: Then the great Space Race has begun. Men, on your marks, get set! [FX: Starting pistol]

(from 'The Space Age', Series 8 Episode 6, broadcast 4 November 1957)

The real hero. Awww.

Sputnik 1 eventually crashed back to Earth in January 1958, but not before the Russians had launched Sputnik 2 and its passenger, the famous Laika the dog. Laika became the first animal to orbit the planet and the cutest astronaut in the universe.

(If anyone is interested in what happened to Laika, err... she's gone to live on a farm.)

Sputnik 3 was launched in May 1958, but it didn't really work and didn't have an adorable dog on board, so I don't really care about it.



The Seagoon Memoirs can exclusively reveal the true identity of the first person in space.

Greenslade: And so we say goodnight to the Goons, and a chicken will come to no good. We would like you to know that this was the first broadcast from the Russian satellite moon. I say, it's jolly high up here, isn't it?

(from 'The Junk Affair', Series 8 Episode 2, broadcast 7 October 1957)

Now you know.

Image of LP sourced from Discogs. Image of Laika sourced from

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