Smithsonian Collections

Music Box, Sputnik Model

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National Air and Space Museum
This small music box portrays the first artificial satellite of the Earth, Sputnik, in orbit around the Earth. A stylized rendition of the satellite is mounted on a round base that represents the globe. On the base is inscribed the date October 4, 1957 (the launch of Sputnik), and the letters CCCP (Cyrillic letters for USSR). When wound, the music box plays a short tune, followed by beeps that represent the characteristic beeps of the satellite that could be heard by amateur radio operators throughout the world during the last three months of 1957. This object was added to the national collection for its significance to the cultural and psychological impact of the Sputnik launch. Although the satellite itself was a very simple one, carrying only basic instruments for measuring temperature and pressure, and a radio transmitter, its impact on world politics, military affairs, and science and technology was profound. The launch of Sputnik transported the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union to a new arena and began the Space Race.
A private collector, who purchased the music box while on a trip to the Soviet Union in 1964, donated the Sputnik Music box to the museum in 1985. The object is 6 inches, has a base that is 5 inches diameter, and is made of plastic. Sputnik is silver, the stand is clear plastic and the base is blue with gold lettering.
Credit Line
Gift of Carl B. Cobb
Plastic with metal parts
3-D: 15.2 x 12.7cm (6 x 5 in.)
MEMORABILIA-Popular Culture
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Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum