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Sputnik Orbit Comes Full Circle

At what seems to have been the speed of space travel, the iconic Sputnik from the Bel-Aire Motel in Springfield, IL has been saved and restored by Ace Sign Company, and was unveiled Tuesday, May 19th at the dedication of the sign museum at the company's new location at 2540 South First Street in Springfield.

Joe Bringuet from Ace Sign Company was around back when the sign was purchased by the Bel-Aire from a California company, and the motel then hired Ace Sign to install it. Joe recalls that this was somewhere around 1963 to 1965. The sputniks were sold around the country to motels and restaurants primarily, according to Bringuet. They were designed to look like the Soviet Sputnik space satellite. This was the first satellite to orbit the Earth, launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957.

Bringuet says that Ace Sign had been in talks with the owners since the Bel-Aire was slated last year to be torn down, but hadn't heard back from them until last Friday, May 15th, when the sign company learned the owners of the Bel-Aire had finally agreed to donate the Sputnik to the sign museum. Crews from Ace Sign immediately went out and rescued the iconic symbol along Springfield Route 66, and began working on it right away up until right before the dedication ceremony Tuesday at 5pm. Bringuet said the sign needed many new sockets and a lot of other work, but that this task was made easier by the fact that the top half of the fiberglass Sputnik opens up so that it can be worked on from the inside.

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway would like to thank Ace Sign Company for saving the Sputnik!