There are several accepted "zones" of orbits around the Earth.
Later generations helped with Internet connections. [Image Gallery: Earth Pictures from Space: Landsat Satellite Legacy]With the miniaturization of computers and other hardware, it's now possible to send up much smaller satellites that can do science, telecommunications or other functions in orbit.
It's common now for companies and universities to create "Cube Sats", or cube-shaped satellites that frequently populate low-Earth orbit.
Later in the decade, however, the aims of both countries began to split.
While the United States went on to land people on the moon and create the space shuttle, the Soviet Union constructed the world's first space station, Salyut 1, which launched in 1971.
The Sputniks and Explorer 1 became the opening shots in a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted until at least the late 1960s.
The focus on satellites as political tools began to give way to people as both countries sent humans into space in 1961. 3, 1957 the Soviets launched an even more massive satellite — Sputnik 2 — which carried a dog, Laika.The United States' first satellite was Explorer 1 on Jan. The satellite was only 2 percent the mass of Sputnik 2, however, at 30 pounds (13 kg).The satellite thus keeps a perpetual connection with a fixed antenna on the ground, allowing for reliable communications.When geostationary satellites reach the end of their life, protocol dictates they're moved out of the way for a new satellite to take their place.Land-watching satellites such as the Landsat series tracked changes in forests, water and other parts of Earth's surface over time.Telecommunications satellites made long-distance telephone calls and eventually, live television broadcasts from across the world a normal part of life.Only a fraction of these satellites are useable, meaning that there is a lot of "space junk" floating around out there.With everything that is lobbed into orbit, the chance of a collision increases.As will be seen below, however, not all artificial satellites are necessarily workable ones.Even a screw or a bit of paint is considered an "artificial" satellite, even though these are missing these parts.