On February 9, 1959, the R-7 Semyorka, the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was ready for operations in Plesetsk, Soviet Union (now Russia). 
The R-7 was a Soviet victory in the Cold War. With the ICBM, the Soviets had a missile that could deliver its payload (bomb) up to 8,800 kilometers (5,500 miles) away, to within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the target. The R-7 was capable of carrying a single nuclear warhead, with an energy yield the equivalent of three million tons of TNT.
Although the R-7 was designed to carry a nuclear weapon, a modified version of the rocket successfully launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit and became the basis for almost all Soviet and Russian space launchers.
artificial satellite

object launched into orbit.

Cold War

(1947-1991) conflict between the Soviet Union (and its allies) and the United States (and its allies). The two sides never confronted each other directly.

intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)

projectile launched into sub-orbit above the Earth and carrying nuclear weapons.


instrument used to view very small objects by making them appear larger.

nuclear weapon

explosive device that draws power from the splitting and combining of atomic nuclei.


work or work processes.


path of one object around a more massive object.

Soviet Union

(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

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