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Q. Which countries were first to launch satellites? — Tanya E.
A. Satellites are part of daily life, used around the world for communications, weather forecasting, navigation, observing land, sea and air, scientific research, military reconnaissance and numerous other purposes. In addition, hundreds of men and women have lived and worked aboard space shuttles and space stations, which are manned satellites in Earth orbit.

The majority of satellites have been built by Russia and the United States, but the countries of Western Europe in the European Space Agency, as well as Japan, China, India, Canada, Israel, Brazil and others have been actively engaged in satellite development.

We refer to a spacefaring nation as a country with a rocket powerful enough for space launches. Spacefaring nations are those which launch their own satellites to orbit.

In chronological order, the first countries to loft their artificial moons to orbit above Earth were:

  1. USSR
    1957 Oct 4
    satellite: Sputnik 1
    rocket: Old Number Seven
    launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome

  2. USA
    1958 Jan 31
    satellite: Explorer 1
    rocket: Jupiter-C
    launch site: Cape Canaveral

  3. France
    1965 Nov 26
    satellite: Asterix 1
    rocket: Diamant
    launch site: Algeria

  4. Japan
    1970 Feb 11
    satellite: Ohsumi
    rocket: Lambda 4S-5
    launch site: Kagoshima

  5. China
    1970 Apr 24
    satellite: Mao 1
    rocket: Long March-1
    launch site: Inner Mongolia

  6. Great Britain
    1971 Oct 28
    satellite: Black Knight 1
    rocket: Black Arrow
    launch site: Woomera Australia

  7. Europe
    1979 Dec 24
    satellite: CAT
    rocket: Ariane
    launch site: Kourou, French Guiana

  8. India
    1980 Jul 18
    satellite: Rohini 1
    rocket: Satellite Launch Vehicle
    launch site: Sriharikota Island

  9. Israel
    1988 Sep 19
    satellite: Horizon 1
    rocket: Shavit
    launch site: Negev Desert

  10. Iran
    2009 Feb 3
    satellite: Omid (Hope)
    rocket: Safir-2 two-stage
    launch site: Semnan
    Dasht-e-Kavir desert

  11. North Korea
    2012 Dec 12
    satellite: Kwangmyongsong 3
    (Lode Star 3)
    rocket: Unha three-stage
    launch site: Sohae
    Satellite Launching Station



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