Race to Space

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  • Topic: NASA, Project Mercury, Apollo program
  • Pages : 5 (1718 words )
  • Download(s) : 84
  • Published : April 26, 2013
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In 1957 the Soviet Union launched “Sputnik” an artificial satellite into orbit; this sparked a very sudden desire of competition, between the United States and The Soviet union, to be more technologically advanced than one another. The priority of getting a man into space became first on the list. Where this man could be found? Where to start looking? Test Pilots!, At the time were the best of the best, there was no “Top Gun” these were the men that could get the job done, the only problem is getting them to do this “circus stunt” as Virgil (Guss) Grissom once said. The United Stated Government started working with German scientists and Americas best aeronautical engineers to first, at least, launch a spherical piece of aluminum into orbit, as the soviets just have. In 1958 when the United States launched Explorer I, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began working with full steam, devoting all time and money to getting a man into space, with the collaboration of the original mercury 7 astronauts. In 1955 a United States spy plane stumbled across a large site consisting of numerous missiles being constructed along with 3 different launch areas. The immediate thought of President Eisenhower was that the Russians were planning on sending one of those in the direction of the white house, how this could be, and the cold war was technically over. Vice president Lyndon B. Johnson caused panic within the governors and generals; he said “Soon they'll be dropping bombs on us like kids dropping rocks from a freeway overpass.” Something had to be done, an invisible competition began between the soviets and the United States, and the Air force began a program Called VANGUARD scheduled to have a rocket completed for space flight by March 1958. Werner Von Braun who had already been a citizen of the United States since the day the U.S. stumbled across the Russian rockets, was working on the VANGUARD program with his fellow scientists from Germany developing the V2 rockets. His men constructed numerous tests many that failed but did have one for launch within the first year of tests. But the year of 1955 to 56 had much more important focuses to the, including, the Warsaw pact the Russian change of leadership and the Suez crisis. The Eisenhower’s eyes really didn’t open up until he saw that they sent “Sputnik” into orbit then he realized we should have launched that rocket a year earlier. Very shortly after, the U.S. sent the Explorer I into outer space, transmitting intermittent signals back to earth. In 1959 the Russian dog was sent up and did survive the environment for a short period of time but there was no intent to retrieve the retriever. On the other hand we were more kind to our animals out two monkeys were sent into space two different times and did survive and were retrieved. A whole different program began to arise and the start of the space race had just begun. Vice president Johnson was in charge of the Project named Mercury and handed it off to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration “NASA” making it no longer strictly a military run operation. The United States government viewed over two million military pilots and personnel just to fill the seven spots. The perfect candidate had to be someone that was more knowledgeable than any average person, in the perfect physical shape, and most importantly, have to most experience in the cockpit. When the young unmarried military pilots and even the finest of the marines were compared to the navy test pilots, elimination was clean and simple the best men for the job are test pilots. The unfortunate part was that the test pilots were insubordinate and high risk takers, but were the only group that could withstand and were willing to go onto the second round of tests. The tests were inhumane and extremely stressful, tests included, pressure suit tests, acceleration tests, vibration tests, heat tests, and loud noise tests, each...
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