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Space race between the US and the USSR
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (USA) for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, the Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological and ideological superiority. The Space Race involved pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, sub-orbital and orbital human spaceflight around the Earth, and piloted voyages to the Moon. It effectively began with the Soviet launch of the Sputnik 1 artificial satellite on 4 October 1957, and concluded with the co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project human spaceflight mission in July 1975. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project came to symbolize “détente”, (a partial easing of strained relations between the USSR and the US). Chapter 1: What was this “space race”
In October, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite — named Sputnik — to be hurled into orbit around the Earth. Sputnik was actually no larger than a beach ball and sent meaningless signals back to earth, but it had a profound effect on the thinking of citizens and governments around the globe. It was a shiny steel sphere about 23 inches across with four antennas trailing behind it. Russian engineers wanted to make sure that people around the globe could both see and hear it. Sputnik was polished so it would reflect light that could be seen with the naked eye even from 175 miles up in the sky. And it broadcast a "beep-beep" pattern of signals that could be picked up by amateur radio operators around the world. The reaction in the U.S. and around the world was astonishment and some measure of fear. All of a sudden, there was an "enemy satellite" streaking across the sky over the U.S. At the time, no one knew what it was capable of doing. What U.S. political leaders did know was that if the Soviet Union had rockets powerful enough to launch a satellite, they had rockets powerful enough to launch atomic bombs on the U.S. The "space race" between the Soviet Union and the United States was on. But the USA’s first attempts at catching up ended in spectacular explosions. You can see how newspapers reported both the Sputnik launch and a U.S. "Flopnik" launch when an early U.S. rocket blew up. NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was created in 1958 to bring competing military space programs into one effort. Soon, they developed the rockets, built the space capsules and satellites and hired astronauts to become space men. The Space Race had its origins in the missile-based arms race that occurred just after the end of the World War II, when both the Soviet Union and the United States captured advanced German rocket technology and personnel. Due to the fear of burn-up in reentry and contamination by space germs, the first space flights planned were in the form of unmanned satellite launches. The Soviet Union threw down the gauntlet when on October 4, 1957, Sputnik I was launched into space as the first orbiting satellite. A month later, on November 3, the Soviet Union set another record when it launched Sputnik II with the first living creature in space: a dog named Laika. On January 31 of the following year, the United States countered with Explorer I, its first satellite. In 1960, the U.S. began its Corona program, a recently declassified satellite reconnaissance program developed by the CIA and the Air Force, which returned photographs of the U.S.S.R. and China. The Space...
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