It was one small step. In 1957, Earth’s first artificial satellite was launched into space by the Soviet Union. That gave way to the space race, an enormous investment in science education and the modern world’s overwhelming reliance on satellite technology. If a natural disaster or human activity were to destroy that orbiting infrastructure, television, GPS and a huge chunk of communications would disappear. Still, scientists say the world could benefit from another “Sputnik moment” — if it can put scientific curiosity ahead of nationalist fervor.