The launch of Sputnik 1 in late 1957 changed the books being published in Russia as well as the Western world. For all the media coverage space flight up until that point was not seen as possible by the average person. The idea that "someday" something would orbit the earth or "someday" someone would go to the Moon was taken as a vague dream.
It was this iconic image, a actual machine made by people that was flying in space. This image changed everything.
For the "fans" of spaceflight this was a vindication of their dreaming and prodding of others to make rockets real. It took rockets as a weapon to get people to build improved ones, but it was the ability to put something in orbit that was encouraged by these visionaries. There are very few military reasons to bother putting something in orbit but a whole bunch of scientific and creative ones.
The Russians were lead by Tsiolkovsky as their visionary. His writings and plans for how to get to space and what people would do when they got they had gotten into the Russian soul. His writings were part science fiction, part inventor and part religious conviction. He was convinced that we were destined to go to the stars.
This is a 82 page pamphlet about Tsiolkovsky. Part of a classroom series for younger readers.