•The main reason was national security. •One of the main causes of the space race was to see whether U.S. or Russia had better technology than the other country. • The USSR realized the US had airbases throughout Europe, the Middle East and Alaska. From these USbombers could hit anywhere inside the USSR. The Soviets,however, could only reach Alaska and a very small portion of the Pacific Northwest. They felt threatened! Theirsolution? Design rockets to carry atomic bombs to the US,should that ever be necessary. It took them over 10 years to build a rocket big enough to do this.
How They Competed VSat the end of World War II carried over into the space race. In light of the eventswith “Project Paperclip,” the Soviets were more determined than ever to be thefirst to acquire the rocket technologies and show the rest of the world that theywere a superpower and a force to be reckoned with. Initially it appeared that theUnited States would easily be able to pick up where the Germans had left off interms of rocket science due to the fact that they now had von Braun, many of theGerman rocket scientists, and much of the V-2 hardware. This was not the casehowever. The United States sat on this gold mine and did nothing until theKorean War, about eight years later. Many would attribute this loss of valuabletime to President Truman. Von Braun continued to say that theSoviets would win the race into space because of our lack of interest and fundsto develop the Redstone rocket. The technology could have been finished asearly as 1950, but the United States chose to focus their efforts and financeselsewhere. The Soviets were more than ready to take the lead and the UnitedStates was going to be caught by surprise at the incredible motivation the Sovietshad to win this race. This race was one the United States didn’t even know theywere in yet. This was the beginning of the Cold War between the United Statesand the Soviet Union.