Gagarin Space Art, Sputnik poster 35.4″ x 25.2″ from Displate. Sputnik, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, was the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. Sputnik’s success spurred the 1960s space race between the US and the Soviet Union and, in part, lead the US to invest heavily in the Apollo program to win the race to the moon.