At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States were locked into a bitter battle of military positioning and propaganda known as the Cold War. Stemming from this, as technology advancements showed the world the military capabilities of space exploration, the two nations became engaged in a “Space Race,” as both attempted to conquer the space beyond the Earth. From the first satellite launched into space by the Soviet Union, to the first animals in space, to space probes, lunar landings, and humans in space, the Soviet Union appeared to rule the race. However, in 1969, the United States launched Apollo 11, which allowed the first human being to walk on the moon, essentially ending much of the competition for space. As other nations began to develop their own programs, the two nations joined together to explore space in mutual respect. Thus, while the Space Race developed from a vicious Cold War, the race ended in cooperation between two powerful nations. While the space race certainly advanced technology far beyond what would have occurred without such competition, the race also fostered and developed the technological, cultural, ideological, and military mindsets of both countries forever.
Following World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union began an informal competition known as the “Space Race.” This fierce competition involved efforts by each country to explore outer space using satellites, send humans into space, and land individuals on the moon. While the competition was closely aligned with the arms race between the two countries during the Cold War, space technology also became an important part of the technological, cultural, ideological, and military rivalry between the two countries.
To understand the origins of the Space Race, it is important to understand both the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II, as well as the technological advancements during World War II that made space exploration possible. For many years prior to WWII, German scientist Wernher von Braun worked on liquid rocket propellants in an effort to develop long-range artillery rocket fire, succeeding in 1934, with the development of the a-2 Rocket, powered by ethanol and liquid oxygen (Emme, 41). By 1936, the team moved from Berlin to a small town called Peenemunde in an effort to increase security. By 1942, the German a-4 Rocket was propelled into space, and by 1943, the Germans had developed the a-2 Rocket, capable of a range up to 185 miles (Emme, 45). In doing so, these German scientists unknowingly began the research needed for the Space Race.
Following WWII in 1945, Soviet, British, and American military and scientific leaders sought to obtain both trained personnel and the technological knowledge of the Peenemunde installation (Emme, 47). The United States, able to offer more funding, political asylum, and protection from post-war criminal charges, took many of the most noted German scientists, including Wernher von Braun, and created the project later known as “Operation Paperclip” (Naimark, 27). Over three hundred train loads of V-2 Rockets were transported to the United States, along with 126 of the scientists from Peenemunde. Primarily, the researchers began to use the rocket technology to investigate high altitude compression, cosmic rays, and atmospheric pressure (Time Travel Research Center). These advances contributed much to later technologies used in space exploration.
The Soviet Union also captured several V-2 Rockets as well as staff, and in 1946 set up a group of 250 engineers, led by Groettrup. The work done between 1946 and 1950 eventually led to the SCUD missile, but no designs created were directly produced. The British, under Operation Backfire, launched several captured V-2’s in Germany, but the engineers involved had already committed to Operation Paperclip. The documentation of the rocket launches done during Operation Backfire, however, were by far the most technical, tailored, and detailed known (Time Travel Research Center).
While the Space Race clearly had origins in rocket technology, the Cold War was also a primary factor in space exploration and advancement. Following the end of WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a fierce battle of espionage, military force, and propaganda. As the Soviet Union attempted to push communism onto the world, the United States sought to push democracy (Gainor, 35). As a result, the two powerhouses consistently sought technology, strategy, and methods of outperforming the other, as well as to discover the other’s secrets.
Space exploration clearly offered numerous solutions to these issues for both superpowers. Space exploration and satellites could, scientists and military annalists believed, be used to spy on other countries, gathering photographic and location specific information regarding any technologies, military movements, or weapon storage. Additionally, the leaders of these countries believed that to beat the other to space would promote a concept of superiority, prowess, and military superiority (Gainor, 12). As the development of rocket technology increased, and as that technology advanced, space exploration became a feasible goal.
In 1947, the citizens of the United States had one of their first experiences with space, further fueling the flames for the Space Race. In July of that year, farmers in Roswell, NM discovered a crash site nearly three-fourths of a mile in width, consisting of metal, and other unfamiliar debris. A local sheriff called the military, who declared a few days later that a “flying disk” had crashed. Shortly thereafter, the statement was retracted, and replaced with stories of a downed weather balloon (Weaver, 1). Conspiracy theories began to develop, and while discriminating fact from fiction can be difficult, there is no question the event led the public of the United States to begin to question space, and the exploration of space, as well as to discuss espionage, and the need for information of Soviet activities.
As rocket technology continued to develop, there were several successful launches of recovered V-2 rockets by the United States and the Soviet Union in which animals played an important role. As early as July, 1946, the U.S. launched V-2 rockets with fruit flies, in an effort to determine the effects of radiation exposure at high altitude (Beischer and Fregly, 53).
In June of 1948, Albert, a primate, was launched in a V-2 rocket from White Sands, New Mexico, making it the first mammal to attempt space flight. However, the monkey died of suffocation. In June of 1949, however, Albert II was sent in a V-2 rocket, and survived the flight, but was killed on impact, as were monkey launched in September of the same year, and also in December (Beischer and Fregly, 54).
By 1951, aerobe rockets were used to test responses in monkeys and mice to atmospheric conditions, as well. In September of 1951, a monkey and 11 mice were sent aloft, and recovered alive, equaling the first animals to survive an actual spaceflight. In May of 1952, two monkeys were also recovered alive, equaling the first mammals to survive space (NASA, 18). The Soviet Union launched their first animal into space in January of 1951, when the R-1 IIIA-1 flight carried Tsygan and Dezik, two dogs, into space (NASA, 19).
By 1950, biological experiments were conducted using unmanned balloon flights, again to test compression, altitude responses, and other possible space flight issues. In September of 1950, white mice were sent to a height of 47,000 feet, but died from capsule depressurization. Shortly thereafter, more mice were sent 97,000 feet, and were recovered unharmed (NASA, 19). While these experiments were not successful, they laid the groundwork for later success in the Space Race.
In addition to animal and rocket experimentation that helped speed the Space Race, work in radar technologies also helped to propel both sides of the race forward. In 1945, Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories established radar contact with the moon. The researchers at the time noted the implications of such contact by noting the V-3 missiles were capable of climbing over 70 miles above the earth. This meant, according to the scientists, that rockets of the future would travel much further. Radio signals, able to travel much further, could be used for early detection of such weapons, and to control such weapons. Additionally, they noted, by using a reflector beyond the earth for radio waves meant possible use of the moon as a point-to-point communication reflector (Mofenson, 45).
By 1952, citizens of the U.S. assumed their country had superiority in technology over the Soviet Union, and assumed they were winning the space race. So when the International Council of Scientific Unions chose to establish 1957 as International Geophysical Year, and when the council announced artificial satellites should be launched to map the surface of the Earth, the world assumed the U.S. would launch the first satellite that year. In July of 1955, the White House announced plans to launch in 1957, and chose the Navel Research Laboratory to represent the U.S. (Bulkeley, 45).
However, by the summer of 1957, the TV-2, the second incarnation of the proposed satellite, was still having severe problems. Structural issues, pressurization problems, filings in the engine, and other problems stalled any test launch. Three test launches in September failed miserably, but by October, the crew believed they were ready to test (Green and Lomask, 41).
However, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union shocked the United States and the world by successfully launching Sputnik 1, into orbit around the Earth, becoming the first nation to launch an artificial satellite into orbit, and pushing them to the front of the now active Space Race (Green and Lomask, 22). Sputnik I circled the Earth once every 96 minutes, was 22 inches in diameter, and was made of aluminum alloys.
The reaction in the United States was tumultuous, at best.
Citizens of the United States, once certain American’s were superior in all things technological and scientific, now began to doubt the superiority of their educational system, as the Russian technologies advanced beyond American capability (Hayes, 13F). The night of the launch, however, only amateur astronomers seemed genuinely interested in the Russian achievement. As the implications of such advanced technology spread, however, so did panic and alarm, even though the government had known for some time the Russian military had capabilities of launching such a satellite (Eisenhower, 206). Citizens, however, surprised at the achievement and entrenched in the Cold War, feared the implications of such technology (Witkin, 4).
While the American public was in fear of the Russian accomplishment, those scientists involved in the failed Vanguard project were anxious to track the Russian satellite. Within hours of the launch, most of the orbit computation experts working on Vanguard had assembled to convert the Sputnik frequency to calculate and predict the course of the satellite. However, as the tracking system came online, Sputnik ceased transmission (Smitherman, 362).
Citizens of the Soviet Union, however, were greatly interested and excited about the Sputnik project. Realizing the world-wide recognition of their achievement, the citizens rallied behind the space effort, seeing the launch as an important sign of scientific and engineering capability. Considering the country was recovering from massive devastation after World War II, the Soviet’s considered the launch a major milestone in their history (Witkin, 18B).
The Soviet Union again surprised the world on November 11, 1957, when they launched Sputnik 2. Not only was Sputnik 2 more advanced than its predecessor, the spacecraft also carried the first biological creature to be monitored in space. Standing 4 meters high, with a diameter of 2 meters, Sputnik 2 contained several compartments for radio transmitters, scientific instruments, and a temperature control system. Another compartment carried the experimental dog Laika. Laika was a female Samoyed terrier, and was held in a pressurized, temperature controlled area with enough room to lie down or stand. The compartment also held an air regeneration unit, and food and water. Laika was fitted with a harness, a bag to collect waste, and electrodes to monitor health conditions, which were then sent to Earth every fifteen minutes of each orbit. Although Laika was expected to die, since there was no way to return the craft to Earth safely, the dog perished only two days into the mission. Core separation did not occur on the craft during orbit, damaging the temperature control system and tearing the thermal insulation in the craft. Laika died from heat exposure. However, the data transmitted was the first of a living mammal in space. The craft reentered Earth’s atmosphere in April of 1958 (NASA, 1957-002A).
The successful launch of yet another Soviet satellite provided the incentive needed by the U.S. Vanguard group. On December 6, 1957, Vanguard TV-3, a rocket carrying a small aluminum satellite was launched, but exploded within seconds. Shortly thereafter, however, on January 31, 1958, a Redstone missile was used to launch the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, into space. The satellite carried with it instruments to study micrometeorites and cosmic rays. The satellite successfully showed radiation trapped in the Earth’s magnetosphere, leading to the term the Van Allen Radiation Belt, named after the scientist studying the cosmic rays (NASA, 1958-001A).
While the Explorer launch was a success, the United States was still clearly losing the Space Race, as shown by several failed attempts shortly after Explorer. In an effort to improve the space program, President Eisenhower called for a civilian National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA, #10). Shortly thereafter, the NASA bill (S-3609) was introduced into the Senate and the House, with objectives listed of space exploration and manned space flights (NASA, #10).
While the concepts were certainly timely, their introduction was not. On May 15, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik III, a 2926 pound conical satellite capable of carrying a human being with food and equipment.(” Four Objects Reported in Sputnik Orbit,” 28). According to scientists and the space community, the success of the launch showed clearly that the Soviets were well-organized, and consistently improving their space program, whereas the United States’ continued failures showed the U.S. program was striving only for “international propaganda” (“Four Objects Reported in Sputnik Orbit,” 29). Additionally, they noted, the Soviet Union was clearly not hindered by a lack of governmental support for a national space program.
With the new fuel for pushing a national space program, the House passed the NASA bill on June 2, while the Senate bill pushed through soon after on June 16th. Following a brief disagreement over the structure of administration of the group, it was decided NASA would be governed by a seven member policy board, with the President as chair (Wilson, 4). NASA was signed into law on July 29, 1958.
In December of the same year, the United States pulled to the forefront of the Space Race after several Vanguard failures by launching the first communications satellite. Known as Project SCORE, termed for the Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment company, the satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral using an Atlas B. missile. The orbit pattern of the satellite was low, and the life expectancy was short. To account for the difficulty this presented with real time communications, a ‘store and forward’ communication mode was added, allowing the satellite to communicate worldwide. President Eisenhower recorded a Christmas message to broadcast from the satellite. On December 19th, as the satellite passed over California, the message was broadcast. While of limited usefulness, the SCORE project showed clearly the future of a satellite radio system and intercontinental communications (U.S. Army Space Institute, 2-1).
While the government was clearly concerned about overtaking the Soviet Union in the space race, the United States was also concerned about meeting the needs of students in terms of educational goals in terms of science and mathematics. In 1958, the National Defense Education Act was passed, which provided funding to educational institutions at all levels. For higher education, NDEA provides capital funds for low interest loans to students, while for elementary and secondary educational institutions, NDEA provides direct federal aid (Department of Defense). Control of the NDEA funding is held by the federal government, and allows the curriculum, instruction, and administration of the program to be determined.
With new vigor, the United States began attempts to launch unmanned space probes before the Soviet Union, in a project called “Pioneer.” These missions were designed to launch spacecraft that would escape the Earth’s velocity to study the moon and other planets. From August 1958 to December of 1958, the United States launched three probes, Pioneer 0-3, all of which failed on launch (Powell, 221). The Soviet Union, determined to continue their advancements into space, also began a probe program, and on January 2, 1959, the Luna 1 probe launched and reached the escape velocity of the Earth, becoming the first spacecraft to do so (NASA, 1959-012A). The Soviet Union was again ahead in the Space Race.
Luna 1 traveled within 5995 km of the Moon on January 4th, and went into orbit around the sun. The craft was designed, in part, to study the behavior of gas in space, and as such, released a cloud of sodium gas on January 3rd. The glowing orange trail was viable from Earth, and allowed astronomers to track the spacecraft. Additionally, the release of gas made Luna 1 the first artificial comet. The craft contained radio equipment, tracking transmitters, a telemetry system, and other scientific devices that allowed the probe to study the Earth’s radiation belt, as well as to discover the moon had no magnetic field, and the discovery of solar wind, the flow of ionized plasma coming from the sun and traveling through space (NASA, 1959-012A).
Two months later, on March 3, 1959, the U.S.’s Pioneer 4 achieved a lunar flyby. Designed to record radiation data from the moon, the probe was equipped with a photoelectric sensor with two photocells designed to be triggered by the light of the moon. This feature, however, did not function properly, so the only data retrieved was that of radiation levels near the moon NASA (1959-013A). The United States was again caught up in the Space Race.
In September of 1959, however, the Soviet Union again moved ahead by successfully launching Luna 2, which impacted the moon. As the first spacecraft to land on the moon, Luna 2 proved the theory that previous missions had suggested, that the moon did not have a magnetic field, or radiation levels (NASA, 1959-014A). Because the craft had no propulsion devices, it could not be retrieved, but the data transmitted from the probe was scientifically advanced, and allowed for the prospect of landing human beings on the moon’s surface.
In August of 1960, the Soviet Union again made space history with the launch and return of Sputnik 5. Of major importance was the crew of two dogs, Belka and Strelka, 40 mice, and two rats Sputnik 5 carried into orbit. When the spacecraft returned to Earth the following day, all animals remained alive, making the launch the first to successfully return living animals from space (NASA, 1960-011A).
In 1961, the Soviet Union achieved the previously unthinkable: a human being in space. Vostok 1 launched on April 12, 1961, and carried Yuri a Gargarin into space. Unsure of medical reactions to weightlessness, the controls for Vostok were maintained from the ground.
Gargarin orbited the Earth, and landed 108 minutes later (NASA, 1961-012A). The day was celebrated across the world as a major victory for the Soviet Union, and for humanity in general. April 12 is still celebrated as a holiday in many countries of the former Soviet Union.
Always slightly behind, the United States on May 5, 1961, launched Mercury-Redstone 3, or Mercury 7, with Alan Shepard on board. Unlike the Vostok mission, the Mercury vessel did not orbit the Earth, but simply propelled the craft into space, still meeting the requirement to record the first U.S. human in space. The entire flight was only 15 minutes and 28 seconds in length. Many in the scientific community felt the flight was minimal, and a poor follow-up to the Soviet mission (NASA, MERCR3).
For the next several years, space exploration and manned spaceflight experienced several ‘firsts’. In Feb of 1962, John Glenn became the first American to successfully orbit the Earth in the spacecraft Friendship 7 (NASA, 1962-003A). In August of the same year, the Soviet Union launched Vostok 3 and Vostok 4, the first dual-manned space flights (NASA, 1962-036A). In June of 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. In October of 1964, the first flight with more than a single crew member, Voskhod 1, was launched by the Soviet Union. In March of 1965, Aleksei Lenov of the Soviet Union became the first person to spacewalk (Green).
During this time, President John Kennedy was desperately striving to beat the Soviet’s to a manned moon landing. Announcing his plan in 1961 to land a man on the moon before the Soviets by the end of the decade, Kennedy fought to push public opinion. The announcement of the Apollo project, aimed at a moon landing, helped to sway opinion. In addition, the Bay of Pigs incident, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which American’s learned the Soviet Union had missiles in Cuba, aimed at the United States, helped raise a desire to beat the Soviet Union (Siddiqi, 43).
In the Soviet Union, however, opinion on manned moon landings appeared almost ambivalence. Soviet leader Khrushchev did not wish to be defeated by the United States, and could not see the use of such a project. Even Kennedy’s proposals for dual country space flights, in which astronauts from both the U.S. And the Soviet Union would land on the moon, were denied. In light of the mistrust from the Cold War at the time, Khrushchev saw the attempts by Kennedy as a guise under which to steal superior Russian technology. As late as 1963, the Soviet Union claimed to not be pursuing manned moon landings. It was not until 1965 that the Soviets announced any intention of landing on the moon (Siddiqi, 76).
The United States, however, was making progress on the concept, but with several disasters. The first Apollo mission, tested on January 27, 1967, resulted in the deaths of three astronauts when a fire in the cockpit and a faulty door mechanism prevented their escape. Launch failures, faulty systems, and mechanical failure also seemed to plague the program (NASA, 25). Simultaneously, the first Soviet attempt, the Soyuz 1 flight, launched April 23, 1967, encountered several difficulties before crash landing. Following the accident, the Soviet moon missions quickly became unorganized, and with launch failures plaguing the program, numerous test flights were cancelled (NASA, 1967-037A).
On July 16, 1969, the United States launched Apollo 13, the spacecraft that would change the course of the Space Race. Manned by Neil a. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins, Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 21. Shortly thereafter, Armstrong stepped from the craft, and became the first human to set foot on the moon (Cotright, 350). While the Soviet Union had been ahead of the United States for nearly 25 years in terms of space exploration, the U.S. had finally achieved the primary goal, that of placing a human on the moon.
Over the next several years, the Soviet Union did land individuals on the moon. In addition, the Soviet Union Venerea 1 craft, launched in 1971, became the first craft to land on Venus, while their Mars 3 craft became the first to land on Mars in the same year. Further, the first space station, Salyut 1, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1971 (Siddiqi, 83).
The Space Race unofficially ended in 1975, with the joint cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 were launched on July 15, 1975. The two crafts, made by competitive nations, docked together on July 17. Seen as a political and pubic relations venture, this mission led to technological advancements in docking capabilities, and a sense of combined purpose for the two nations. Additionally, as the Cold War began to die, and as other nations began their own space programs, the United States and the Soviet Union’s race to space became a combined effort to explore the universe together.
The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States, while stemming from tension after World War II, the Cold War, and constant suspicion and political disagreements, led to some of the most useful technology in the world. Aerospace engineering, communications, rocketry, physics, astronomy, and reporting capabilities soared during this race. Additionally, numerous inventions created in line with space exploration, such as dried foods, heating elements, and other substances are still in wide use today, and allow for continued space travel. Educational advancement, made possible through the NDEA Act of 1958 has allowed for the funding of millions of children’s educations, and was made possible only through the Space Race. It is important to remember that, while the Space Race was based on negativity, the resulting advancements have allowed the world community to explore, expand, and examine all aspects of science in a way previously not possible. While the competition was closely aligned with the arms race between the two countries during the Cold War, space technology also has become an important part of the technological, cultural, ideological, and military concepts of both countries.
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That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more