Happy Anniversary to Sputnik!

Sixty years ago this week, on 4th October 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, triggering the start of the Space Race with the USA. Sputnik was a relatively simple spacecraft, transmitting its famous ‘beep’ as it orbited the Earth for three weeks before its batteries ran out.

Six decades on, spacecraft have become considerably more complex. Today, they play an important role in our daily lives, making various communication, navigation and science applications possible. But, like Sputnik, these spacecraft still have moving parts, mechanical systems that enable the satellite to deploy and operate in the vacuum environment of Space.

Here at ESTL, we ensure that these moving parts work as they are intended to by applying the principles of good tribology – the science and engineering of friction, lubrication and wear. Although we weren’t around when Sputnik was launched, we’ve been Europe’s experts in this specialist field since we were created in 1972, since when we have been involved in virtually every major European spacecraft programme to date.

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