Beal Aerospace of Frisco, Texas, was founded by Andrew Beal, President of Beal Bank, Dallas, entirely with private funds in 1997 to design, manufacture, and operate low-cost satellite launch vehicles. The company became a pioneer in the privatization of space flight.
Sputnik 1 was humanity's first artificial satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low-earth orbit (LEO) on October 4, 1957. The successful launch shocked the world and ignited the Cold War space race that eventually led to landings on the Moon. Sputnik 1 orbited for three weeks transmitting radio pulses before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into Earth's atmosphere where it burned up.