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October 4, 2010 - Karin Elton
Oct. 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit around the earth, ushering in the Space Age and Space Race.

The word Sputnik has a special meaning for me because I went to school with Sputnik.

Born in 1957, a bumper year for baby boomers, I went to elementary school in St. Paul in the late 1960s. One of the students there was Sputnik Watkins. His fellow black students pronounced his name, “Spootnik.” I remember he was artistic and liked to draw the human body and the teachers were gaga over his drawings. One time I Googled his name thinking he might be an artist or something, but I didn’t come up with anything.

Whenever I hear someone mention the satellite Sputnik, I think of my classmate’s parents, in 1957, hearing the Russian word “Sputnik” and thinking, “that’s a good name for a baby.”


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