Who invented the first satellite and the space program?
Russia is credited with the first man-made satellite. "Sputnik," a 183-pound, 22-inch sphere, was launched on October 4, 1957. Sputnik was not invented by any one person but was the result of a long collaboration of Russian scientists. Sputnik refers both to the satellite and the program for its launch.
The concept of the satellite was proposed by Isaac Newton. Arthur C Clarke is credited with the idea of the communications satellite.
Sergei Korolev is considered the father of the Soviet space program. He is the one who convinced Kruschev to permit the use of the original R5 ICBM to launch Sputnik into orbit. At the time, the American "Vanguard" rocket was designed to orbit a satellite weighing about 1.8 pounds. Sputnik weighed 183 pounds.
A few months later the Soviets launched Laika, a dog, into orbit, in a satellite that weighed half a ton. Sputnik itself was quite a shock, but this half ton capsule meant the soviets could easily drop a nuclear bomb anywhere on the earth in about 90 minutes. Kruschev also (falsely) bragged he could roll R1 rockets off his assembly line like they were kolbasa (sausages).
Korolev was such a valuable asset to the Soviets that they refused to allow him to wear a uniform or any of the medals he had been awarded. He had the Order of Lenin, Russia's highest medal, but was never permitted to wear it.
Sputnik was predominantly Korolev's idea.