The Soviet Union’s launching of the world’s first artificial satellite – Sputnik – in 1957 delivered on the long-held expectation that one day we would enter the realm of outer space. That this was achieved by the USSR surprised many and augured an upheaval in the West’s perception of itself that has echoes for the present. This talk looks at Sputnik’s origins: the land whence it came, the people, the culture, the politics and the technology that gave it form. With references to the Science Museum’s innovative Cosmonauts exhibition of 2015 and a look forward to how Sputnik’s minimal nature is being revisited by today’s mini, micro and even nano-satellites, it will ask questions of our future in space and – indeed – whether we have one at all.
Doug Millard graduated in Environmental Sciences at the University of Warwick in 1981. He qualified as a secondary science teacher in 1983 and then joined the Education Department of the Science Museum in London in 1985. Between 1987 and 1991 he curated the chemical industry, gas, plastics and space technology collections. In 1992 he managed the Museum’s main collections’ store and then coordinated the procurement and installation of the Museum’s new computer network. In 1994 he returned to curatorial work and is now Deputy Keeper Technologies and Engineering. He has produced many space exhibitions, written articles, papers and books including a history of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicle and its engines, lectured widely and appeared on television and radio. In 2006 he gained his MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of London. In April 2012 he co-organised with the UK Space Agency a conference held at the Science Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ariel 1 satellite. He worked on the ‘Information Age’ gallery at the Science Museum (2014) and was senior curator for the ‘Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age’ exhibition (2015) and editor of the associated publication. His book ‘Satellite: Innovation in Orbit’ was published by Reaktion Books early 2017. He is currently researching a new permanent space gallery at the Museum.
The lecture will be preceded by the 18th Annual General Meeting of the Flamsteed Astronomy Society, starting at 7pm.