WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 1957 (UP) - The United States tonight termed Russia's launching of an earth satellite "of great scientific interest" and urged the Soviets to share details of their momentous experiment. Almost as soon as the news was flashed across the world, the government and private scientific groups threw their massive resources into the task of establishing the orbit, or path, of the sphere in its race around the earth.
The U.S. committee for the International Geophysical Year was able to announce a few hours later that they believed they had succeeded.
The White House and Defense and State Departments had no immediate comment on the Soviet achievement.
Dr. Richard Porter, a member of the American IGY team, said "nothing about it looks phony."
Porter said the Russians undoubtedly used a military rocket to fling such a heavy satellite into space. This, he said, is consistent with their statement that they have the ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistics Missile).
But the scientific value of the experiment apparently was still to be established. Rear Admiral Rawson Bennett, chief of U.S. naval research, said the satellite could be called "a hunk of iron" unless it proves to have some scientific value.
Bennett also said he believed the 184-pound weight fired by the Communists "must be an error." He said such a heavy weight was not consistent with earth satellite performance "as we know it."
Hugh Odishaw, executive director of the U.S. Committee for IGY said the American scientists were "not unhappy" because Russia had launched an earth satellite first. But he said they wished the Russians had given "everybody a little more information a little sooner."
This was a reference to the fact that the Soviets supplied only meager information about their satellite at a current rocket meeting here and gave no advance notice of its launching.
Other distinguished American scientists attending the 13-nation conference said the Soviet feat opened up "a new era in science."
The Naval Research Laboratory announced shortly before midnight that its tracking equipment already had recorded three passes of the Soviet satellite over the United States. It said one pass seemed to be in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., the other two further west.