I'm old enough to remember Sputnik, and the incredible hand-wringing it caused in the backwater part of the US I lived in at the time (and, I suspect even in the really big cities, like Saginaw). Of course they used military rockets to launch it. That's all there were, on either side of the iron curtain.
The rockets were originally intended to throw big rocks half-way around the world. But they could be used to throw smaller rocks several times around the world.
--I know what I like--