Today is Thursday, Oct. 4, the 277th day of 2018. There are 88 days left in the year.
On Oct. 4, 1957, the Space Age began as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, into orbit.
In 1777, Gen. George Washington's troops launched an assault on the British at Germantown, Pa., resulting in heavy American casualties.
In 1861, during the Civil War, the United States Navy authorized construction of the first ironclad ship, the USS Monitor.
In 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini conferred at Brenner Pass in the Alps.
In 1957, Jimmy Hoffa was elected president of the Teamsters Union.
In 1959, the Soviet Union launched Luna 3, a space probe which transmitted images of the far side of the moon.
In 1960, an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed L-188A Electra crashed on takeoff from Boston's Logan International Airport, killing all but 10 of the 72 people on board.
In 1970, rock singer Janis Joplin, 27, was found dead in her Hollywood hotel room.
In 1989, Triple Crown-winning racehorse Secretariat, suffering a hoof ailment, was humanely destroyed at age 19.
In 1990, for the first time in nearly six decades, German lawmakers met in the Reichstag for the first meeting of reunified Germany's parliament.
In 1991, 26 nations, including the United States, signed the Madrid Protocol, which imposed a 50-year ban on oil exploration and mining in Antarctica.
In 2002, "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh received a 20-year sentence after a sobbing plea for forgiveness before a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia. In a federal court in Boston, a laughing Richard Reid pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives in his shoes (the British citizen was later sentenced to life in prison).
In 2004, the SpaceShipOne rocket plane broke through Earth's atmosphere to the edge of space for the second time in five days, capturing the $10 million Ansari X prize aimed at opening the final frontier to tourists. Pioneering astronaut Gordon Cooper died in Ventura, Calif., at age 77.