Manhole cover beat Sputnik?

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 12 Aug 1999 17:08:21 -0700

AIRhead Eric Shulman's new book, "A Briefer History of Time",
expanding upon the history-of-the-universe-in-200-words schtick
wrote a footnote to Sputnik's launch:

"In fact, the first artificial object in space had been launched by
accident several months earlier when a manhole cover was left on a
500 foot deep hole during a nuclear test. High speed cameras
determined that the velocity of the object right after the blast was
more than 40 miles/sec. This velocity is high enough for the manhole
cover to have escaped not only from the Earth, but also from the
Solar System. "

Can anyone verify this? Where would it be by now ?Any odds of ever
encountering it again, a la VGR in Star Trek: The Movie?

Surely this ought to be well-documented by now... or is it an urban legend?