Word Origin & History
"artificial satellite," 1957 (launched Oct. 4, 1957), from Rus. sputnik "satellite," lit. "traveling companion," from O.C.S. supotiniku, from su- "with, together" + poti "way, journey" (from PIE base *pent- "to go, pass") + agent suffix -nik. The electrifying impact of the launch on the West can be gauged
by the number of new formations in -nik around this time (the suffix had been present in a Yiddish context for at least a decade before); e.g. the dog launched aboard Sputnik 2 (Nov. 2, 1957), which was dubbed muttnik by the "Detroit Free Press," etc., and the U.S. satellite which failed to reach orbit in 1957 (because the Vanguard rocket blew up on the launch pad) derided as a kaputnik (in the "Daily Express"), a flopnik ("Daily Herald"), a puffnik ("Daily Mail"), and a stayputnik ("News Chronicle").