One Cause of the Space Race was the Cold Warbetween the United States and the Soviet Union,the most powerful countries after WWII. Both these countries were competing to be thenumber one world leader, so space was a criticalarea for battle.
The Space Race started when Russia sentSputnik and the first man into space. The U.S.got the people thinking, “If Russia can sendsatellites into space, then they can sendnuclear weapons from space to the U.S. anddestroy the U.S."It also showed that Russia had better educatedstudents to take Russia into space, and theU.S. was falling behind in education.
The Soviet Unionslaunch of Sputnik —the world‟s firstartificial satellite — inOctober 1957 kickedoff a decades-long„space race‟ betweenthe Soviets and theUnited States.
Both sides, the United States and the U.S.S.R.,tried to show the world its superiority by beingahead in rocketry and spaceflight. At the end of the Cold War, they both agreed tobuild a space station and pursue other jointventures in space. A competition that began infear and hatred had turned into a partnership.
At the start of the Space Race, there were no set rulesfor it. There wasn‟t a set goal, and nobody knew howto win it. For Americans, President Kennedys declaration focusedthe Space Race on one clear goal: landing people onthe Moon before the Soviets, so for the Americans, theSpace Race became a race to get to the Moon. For years, the Soviets officially denied trying to get or“race” to the Moon. Now there is good evidence, thatshows that they did actually compete to try to reachthe Moon first.
The Space Race became a symbol of the politicalcontest between two enemy world powers. The waythe two competitors arranged to achieve their goals inspace showed their basic differences. The United States had different civilian and militaryagencies, and only the military space programs weresecret. Civilian space activities, like the race to theMoon, were widely publicized for the world to see. In the Soviet Union, all space programs were put into asecret military-industrial bureaucracy. Launches werenot announced previous to the launch, and onlysuccessful missions were publicized.
John F. Kennedy was the Presidentof the United States at the time ofthe Space Race and was veryinvolved with it. "I believe that this nation shouldcommit itself to achieving the goal,before this decade is out, of landinga man on the Moon and returninghim safely to the Earth. No singlespace project...will be more exciting,or more impressive to mankind, ormore important...and none will be sodifficult or expensive to accomplish.”President John F. Kennedy, 1961 “We have a long way to go in thespace race. We started late. But thisis the new ocean, and I believe theUnited States must sail on it and bein a position second to none.”President John F. Kennedy, 1962
Valeriy Polyakov is a Russianastronaut that holds therecord of longest space flightin history. He stayed on theMir Space Station for 15month, and has over 22 moremonths of space experience.
Neil Armstrong was thecommander of Apollo 11 which wasthe fist spacecraft with humans toland on the moon. He was the firsthuman to set foot on the moon.When he got there he said theword, “That‟s one small step forman, one giant leap for mankind.”After this, he became the DeputyAssociate Administrator ofAeronautics at NASA.
Technology, in aerospace engineering and electroniccommunication, advanced a lot during this period. The effects ofthe Space Race went way beyond rocketry, physics, and astronomy."Space age technology" extended to fields as different as homeeconomics and forest defoliation studies, and the desire to win therace changed the ways in which students learned science.American concerns that they had fallen so quickly behind theSoviets in the race to space led to a push by legislators andeducators for greater emphasis on math and physical sciences inAmerican schools. The United States National Defense EducationAct of 1958 increased funding for these goals from childhoodeducation through the post-graduate level. To this day over twelvehundred American high schools have their own planetariuminstallations, a direct effect of the Space Race.
Scientists helped develop space exploration technologies whose usesrange from the kitchen to athletic fields. Dried watermelon and ready-to-eat foods, in particular food sterilization, package sealing techniques,stay-dry clothing, and even no-fog ski goggles have their roots in spacescience.Today over a thousand artificial satellites orbit earth, relayingcommunications data around the planet and facilitating remote sensing ofdata on weather, vegetation, and human movements to nations who ownthem. Also, much of the micro-technology which drives everyday activitiesfrom time-keeping to enjoying music derives from research initially drivenby the Space Race.With all these advances since the first Sputnik was launched, the formerSoviet Unions R-7 rocket, that marked the beginning the space race, isstill in use today, servicing the ISS.
Although the pace of space exploration has slowed, itcontinues to advance long after the end of the SpaceRace. The United States launched the first reusable spaceshuttle on the 20th anniversary of Gagarins flight, April12, 1981. On November 15, 1988, the Soviet Unionlaunched Buran, their first and only reusable spacecraft.These and many other nations continue to launch probes,many types of satellites, and large space telescopes.
October 4, 1957 - Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbitthe Earth, is launched by the U.S.S.R., and stays in orbit untilJanuary 4, 1958. January 31, 1958 - Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite in orbit, liftsoff at Cape Canaveral using a modified Jupiter-C rocket. It carries ascientific experiment of James A. Van Allen, and discovers theEarths radiation belt. October 1, 1958 - N.A.S.A. is founded, taking over existingNational Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. October 11, 1958 - Pioneer 1, U.S. - IGY space probe, launchedto a height of 70,700 miles. January 2, 1959 - Luna 1, first man-made satellite to orbit thesun, is launched by the U.S.S.R. April 1, 1960 - Tiros 1, the first successful weather satellite, islaunched by the U.S.
April 12, 1961- Vostok 1 is launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying CosmonautYuri A. Gargarin, the first man in space. He orbits the Earth once. March 18, 1965- The first space walk is made from Soviet Voskhod 2 byCosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov. Duration is 12 minutes. March 1, 1966- Soviet Venera 3 impacts on Venus, the first spacecraft toreach another planet. It fails to return data. 1968- The United States launches Apollo 8, the first manned spacemission to orbit the moon. July 20, 1969- Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. make the firstmanned soft landing on the Moon, and the first moonwalk, using Apollo11. April 11, 1970- Apollo 13 is launched, suffering an explosion in its SMoxygen tanks. Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. Lovell,Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr. and Fred W. Haise, Jr., return safely. June 24, 1974- Soviet Salyut 3, their first military space station, islaunched. It remains in orbit until January 1975.
Space Race. 2002. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 29Apr. 2008<http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal114/gal114.htm>. The Space Race. 31 July 2007. 29 Apr. 2008<http://www.thespacerace.com/>. "Space Race." Wikipedia. 8 May 2008. 9 May 2008<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_race#Cold_War_roots>. "Sputnik and the Space Race." Eisenhower Archives. Dwight D.Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum. 9 May 2008<http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/dl/Sputnik/Sputnikdocuments.html>.