“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” With these eleven words astronaut Neil Armstrong brought the greatest technological race on Earth to its end. But, he did so standing on the moon, giving America one of the most illustrious victories in its short and dense history. Leaving behind the Soviet Union, the United States literally rocketed past their competitor to claim supremacy in the Cold War (a silent war for power). However, both countries achieved success in advancing technology to heights never before seen or even thought of; despite lying in the shadows of two world wars and the Great Depression of the world. The Space Race (1957-1969) between rising powers United Sates and the Soviet Union embodied the battle for world supremacy during the Cold War but took technology to the most significant heights in a shorter time than ever before in human history.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R) established the legitimate beginning of the space race. In the early 1930’s, Soviet military leaders showed intelligence in rockets, missiles, and engines; potential was evident for militaristic rocket use. However, the communist leader, Joseph Stalin, forever in fear of losing powers, initiated a purge of intelligent soldiers in 1937. The Gas Dynamics Laboratory and Petrapavlovskaya Fortress in then Leningrad (St. Petersburg) were left to the captured German Rocket Scientists. Russian rocket designer Sergei Korolev was taken to a gulag and Valentin Glushko, engine expert, escaped punishment (a rivalry was created). Korolev was able to participate in a prison research facility, and after liberation he created the R-7 missile or “Little Seven”. Despite the failure of the first launches, his most profound invention simulated a nuclear strike mission on August 3, 1957, and on October 4, it became a space launcher. Sputnick 1 became the first manmade object in space after being launched by the R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile; thus beginning the space race.
Why did the Soviet activate the space race? The alliance that was once held between the Soviet Union and America, mainly against Germany, became strained after World War II. America had developed a bomb that took out Japan, only informing ally Britain of this weapon, leaving the U.S.S.R to proceed in battle. The United States had begun to amass power and the Soviet wished to prove it was the better country. The Cold War with America extended the want for a push of technology. The U.S.S.R was able to celebrate the victory of Sputnick 1 and then Sputnick 2; which on November 11th of the same year, sent the first living being into space, a dog named Laika (this honored the fortieth anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution). Strides were being made by the Soviets while The United States watched in fear and astonishment. With the launching of Sputnick 3 in May 1958, America had finally had enough.
Space was seen as the final frontier for America, whom had prided itself with the tradition of exploration, would not stand for any more ground lost to the Soviets. On January 31, 1958, America finally placed the Explorer 1 into Earth’s orbit. The satellite was designed by the U.S. Army under Werner Von Braun. Braun was a German rocket scientist who surrendered to the U.S. and committed himself to the militay’s rocket program. Despite following three Sputnicks; Explorer I discovered the Van Allen radiation belt surrounding Earth. In July of that same year the National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA) was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. NASA had been established, with the mission of putting a man on the moon as the main focus. Along with NASA, two other national security programs were made to operate together, the U.S Army and the CIA, to create the National Reconnaissance Office, known as Corona, in order to gather information on the Soviets. The Space Race was now a matter of hubris between foes and neither country wanted to fall....
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