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In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavor. such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the moon. the world's first artificial satellite, the sputnik 1, was launched by the soviet union in 1957. since then, thousands of satellites have been launched into orbit around the earth. some satellites, notably space stations, have been launched in parts and assembled in orbit.