Space Race

Topics: Space exploration, NASA, Wernher von Braun Pages: 7 (2044 words) Published: October 8, 1999
We have always dreamed about reaching the heavens. From ancient civilizations to the modern day world, our obsession of going into space has grown from studying the stars to actual exploration of space. We have come a long way since primitive charts of constellations. From telescopes to satellites, we as a population have progressed greatly in the world of technology. In a mere forty years, we have had more technological advances than the Industrial Revolution. The Space Race has affected our everyday lives; we use the same technology that the astronauts used during their missions for example digital clocks (Dismukes Many industries have benefited, communication companies, industrial manufacturers, and the medical field. As a result of this technological revolution, the world has become smaller. With the technology gained from the Space Race, we can perform medical tasks that only existed in the dreams of surgeons; we can communicate with another person on the other side of the world in seconds, not days or months. Without the Space Race we would not have the technological advances that exist today. We as a population might have been stuck with the technology of the 1930's.

Germany, which has always been at the forefront of engineering, pioneered the technology for early rocketry. They broke new ground with the advances that they accomplished. The Germans interest in having rockets was due to the fact that after World War I the nation was banned in having long-range artillery, such as a bullet that can go several miles; instead Germany had begun research on rocket technology. Much of the accomplishment is credited to Hermann Oberth and Werner von Braun. Oberth wrote The Rocket Into Interplanetary Space. Later, his work motivated future rocket engineers, and von Braun, along with his students, developed the infamous V-2 rocket, later used in World War II (Neal 17).

With the knowledge gained from the research of Oberth and von Braun, the German military has built the V-1 and the V-2, which has been dubbed the "Vengeance Weapon" (Neal 19). During World War II, the American allies were closing in on the German stronghold, and Hitler was terrified, and he issued the manufacturing of notorious V-1 and V-2s.

Von Braun and Oberth unknowingly started a new era in history, the series of technological advances, that would change the world forever. When the Allies liberated much of Germany, von Braun surrendered to the Americans, and had a similar affect on the American Space Program, his knowledge of rockets went later to the design of the Saturn V, that powered many of the Apollo missions.

As the Germans were advancing in their knowledge, technology, and expertise in the field of rocketry, the purpose of rockets had shifted from military to a civilian project. The government had deemed the project unacceptable, and terminated it.

When the Germans showed the world that reaching the stars was not a far-fetched idea, it was possible to do an unbelievable feat of science and engineering. Although the German rocket project was terminated, they had started the basis of modern day rocketry. The dream was growing to enormous proportions. Various nations were interested in this technology, especially the U.S.S.R. and later the United States of America (Snedden 9).

At Approximately the same time the government terminated the rocket project World War II was coming to an end. The Soviets had captured Germany; and seized the technology, physicists, and engineers, who had been working on the rocket project and later forced to work for the Russians (Neal 39). With the material seized during World War II, the U.S.S.R. established a space program. Twelve years later Russia launched the first successful satellite, Sputnik 1.

Sputnik consisted of a sphere the size of a basket, with four antennae transmitting various amounts of information. As news of Sputnik spread throughout...
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