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Intelligence Warning of the 1957 Launch of Sputnik

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Sputnik Stamp USSROn 4 October 1957, the USSR successfully launched the Sputnik-1 earth satellite into space - an achievement that stunned the American public and press but not the US policy and intelligence communities. CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), which was responsible for analyzing the USSR's satellite and missile programs, had reported on the advancements that would lead to this landmark event. As early as 1955, OSI had alerted President Eisenhower to the Soviet program through briefings and finished intelligence products. In June 1957, OSI reported that a Soviet launch of an earth satellite was imminent, noting this capability portended the USSR's production of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reach the US.

This compilation from the 1950s is combined with documents from a FOIA case on the Sputnik program - never before on the CIA.gov webpage - that contains additional memoranda and information reports through the early 1960s. This collection comprises 59 documents and 440 pages with insight on CIA intelligence and analysis of Sputnik-1, -2, and -3, as well as the Soviet ballistic missile program from 1955 to the early 1960s. Over half of this release provides new information on the early Soviet space and missile programs.

To learn more about the OSI and our intelligence and analysis of the USSR's strategic missile programs during the Cold War, visit the following links:

Article: Center for Studies in Intelligence, September 2017, "Sputnik and US Intelligence: The Warning Record"

The Missile Gap

Original Wizards of Langley

 

Documents in this Collection

Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®

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