... 1957 (50 years ago today), as Americans awaited a sitcom, "Leave It To Beaver," due to premiere that night, "[h]istory changed," in the words of the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The event? The Soviets' successful launch and consequent 18,000-mph Earth-orbit of a 180-or-so-pound metal orb the size of a basketball, named Sputnik (model above). This launch date for the 1st-ever satellite marks the beginning of the United Nations' annual World Space Week. This year's theme: "Space for Humanity." Though Sputnik I transmitted data for just 3 weeks, its legacy of a space race and "political, military, technological, and scientific developments" has lasted much longer.
... 1830, Belgians declared independence from the Netherlands, having risen in insurrection on August 25. A Dutch counterattack would fail, and the split-up of the 2 countries was made final in a series of London conferences. This year's anniversary arrives amid prolonged political crisis in Belgium.