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Few Americans considered the gathering on Friday October 4th 1957 at the Soviet Unions Embassy in Washington DC to be anything out of the ordinary It was the appropriate climax of a week-long set of international scientific meetings It was also in the cynical Cold War world of international intrigue between the United States and the Soviet Union an opportunity to gather national security intelligence and engage in petty games of one-upmanship between the rivals This one would prove far different The one-upmanship continued but it was far from petty To a remarkable degree the Soviet announcement that evening changed the course of the Cold War October 5th 1957 Sputnik was launched The Space Race had begun Dr John P Hagen arrived early at the party he wanted to talk to a few Soviet scientists Those he considered personal friends from long years of association in international scientific organizations to learn their true feelings about efforts to launch an artificial satellite as part of the research effort known as the International Geophysical Year IGY Hagen a senior scientist with the Naval Research Laboratory headed the American effort to launch a satellite for the IGY code named Project Vanguard It was behind schedule and over budget Hagen had been through a stitch this last week Beginning on Monday September 30th the international scientific organization known as CSAGI Comit Speciale de lAnne Geophysique Internationale had opened a 6-day conference at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington on rocket and satellite research for the IGY Scientists from the United States the Soviet Union and five other nations met to discuss their individual plans and to develop protocols for sharing scientific data and findings Hints from the Soviets at the meeting however threw the conference into a tizzy of speculation Several Soviet officials had intimated that they could probably launch their scientific satellite within weeks instead of months as the public schedule said
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