Space Race Between Us and USSR Essay

INDEX: Page 2:Introduction Page 2/3: Chapter 1 Page 3/4: Chapter 2 Page 4/5: Chapter 3 Page 5/6: Chapter 4 Page 6:Chapter 5 Page 7: Timeline Page 7/8: Chapter 6 Page 8: Conclusion Page 9: List of Sources Space race between the US and the USSR Introduction 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.

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The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project came to symbolize “detente”, (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 Race sparked unprecedented increases in spending on education and pure research, which accelerated scientific advancements and led to beneficial spin-off technologies. An unforeseen effect was that the Space Race contributed to the birth of the environmental movement; the first color pictures of Earth taken from deep space were used as icons by the movement o show the planet as a fragile “blue marble” surrounded by the blackness of space. During the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union endeavored to demonstrate their power. The space race served as an opportunity for the two nations to showcase their scientific and technological capabilities. Amidst propaganda, the U. S. and the U. S. S. R. competed for superiority in space as they constantly tried to top each other. Chapter 2: The Purpose of the Space Race The Space Race was something that took root in a time of international turmoil, mistrust and anxiety.

The U. S. and U. S. S. R had for decades been rivals in some instances, enemies in others, but always mistrustful of each other and constantly seeking ways to gain the upper hand. With the development of nuclear weapons immediately following World War II, the general fear in the arena of world affairs was that these two nations, in a cruel irony the first two nations to possess nuclear weapons, would utilize these weapons to destroy one another, and in the process, the entire world as well, a phenomena that was termed “Assured Destruction”.

With this context in mind, it is apparent that the Space Race had many direct and indirect purposes. As an extension of the Cold War, in its most basic context, the Space Race was a race not only to be the first country to successfully explore outer space, but also to be the first to ultimately control other planets and therefore dominate not only the world as most people know it, but the entire universe and all of the other planets in it. Being able to control all of this would likely settle the rivalry that defined the Cold War.

The U. S. had a rude awakening in regard to the competition to be first in space when the U. S. S. R. launched Sputnik, a space craft that carried a dog into space and back to earth again safely, not only showing that this was possible, but that it has been done and that the complexity of space travel would only increase from that point, with the U. S. S. R at that point in the lead However, it should not be mistakenly assumed that this would have brought peace to the world if the Space Race was definitively settled once and for all.

At the height of the Cold War, which coincided with the high point of the Space Race, there were rumors in abundance that control of outer space was being sought so that whichever nation took control of other planets would use them for the growth of nuclear weaponry, such as being able to develop and test the weapons in absolute secrecy, as well as using other planets as a convenient staging and launching area for nuclear weapons. In retrospect, the stakes of the Space Race could not have been higher. Chapter 3: Was it worth it? (Time well spent and energy used wisely)

The question of whether or not the Space Race was time well spent and energy used wisely is also a question that can have many possible answers, depending upon the point of view. Today, in being able to look at the Space Race with the luxury of hindsight, it is fair and accurate to say that the Space Race was time well spent and energy used wisely if for no other reason than the fact that countless scientific and technological advancements have been made possible because of the activities that took place in the development of space related innovations.

However, it needs to be noted and understood that these discoveries were not planned on in a search for ways to make life better or to advance science, but quite the opposite, as two world superpowers indulged in a frenzy of research that had the larger objective of being able to dominate, or even destroy, millions of people. The time, money and energy spent trying to develop space travel purely for military purposes, could have been used for outright research and study that would have much more quickly led to the discoveries that were the byproduct of the Space Race in a more rapid and direct fashion.

That said, it is feasible to make the assumption that many more discoveries beneficial to the human race could have taken place much sooner than they did if the focus was not on developing possible weapons, but rather purely on space travel. Chapter 4: Did the space race have a larger purpose? Interestingly enough, the argument can be made that the Space Race also had a larger purpose beyond the victory of the Cold War, although this may have been one of its largest purposes. National pride and domestic power played large and pivotal roles in the rise of the popularity of the Space Race.

As the nations of the world sought to reclaim their identities after World War II, both the U. S. and U. S. S. R were positioned to become nations of which their citizens would be proud. Having not only emerged victorious over the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, the two superpowers also gained a great deal of new territory, responsibility and power, making it necessary for the nations to have a strong base of support at home in order to be able to rebuild themselves as great nations.

Exploring the possibilities of expansion not only beyond land borders, but also the barriers of the planet itself proved to be an exciting way for the citizens of the U. S. and U. S. S. R respectively to become even more proud of their respective nations, which would give each of those nations the amount of synergy needed to be sustained through the darkest days of the Cold War that would eventually stretch over many decades and would only come to an end with the collapse of communism in the 1980s .

From the point of view of the Americans, the Space Race also took on a much more significant purpose than simply showing that space exploration was possible; early in the consideration of the potential of space exploration and travel, it was realized that the technology and science that could be derived from an effective space program would have many uses, and in light of the possibility of “Assured Destruction” (mentioned earlier), defense was one of the most important. In the minds of the American government, the demise of communism was the key to winning the Cold War outright. With this demise in mind, the U.

S. developed a program known, at least in secret at that time, as Technological Anticommunism, which held that space-aided technology advances would be one of the most effective means of combating the growing threat of the communist state. Chapter 5: How the US and USSR benefited from German help During World War II, Germany attacked Great Britain from across the English Channel using V-2 rockets developed by their brilliant rocket scientists and engineers. Among these was the notable Wernher von Braun who, along with many other scientists, surrendered to the United States at the end of the war.

Wernher von Braun had a major role during the space race, leading the teams that developed some of the United States’ rockets, including the Jupiter, Redstone, and Saturn rockets. However, many of the other German rocket engineers had decided to work for the Soviet Union at the end of the war. Both the United States and the Soviet Union benefited from the expertise of these German rocket scientists in their quest for space superiority. Timeline showing dates of significance (in the space race) Chapter 6: A few Important U. S. space programs: The first American program was the Mercury program.

In one of these missions Glen made the first orbital flight around the world. Next the US sent up a series of missions called the Gemini Program. The United States next program was called Gemini and was meant to find out if an astronaut could endure the long period of weightlessness and to come up with docking techniques need for a lunar mission. The Gemini program included the first rendezvous in space, successful dock with a rocket, and an astronaut spent a couple of hours outside working on the outside of the ship. The next set of missions was the Apollo missions.

Apollo 11 was the first mission to reach the moon. On July 20 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon’s surface. He took the first step saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. ” Chapter 6: (continued) A few of the USSR’s important space programs: The R-7 Semyorka: “The R-7 was 34 m long, 3. 02 m in diameter and weighed 280 metric tons; it was capable of delivering its payload at around 8,800 km, with an accuracy of around 5 km. A single thermonuclear warhead was carried with a nominal yield of 3 megatons of TNT.

The initial launch was boosted by four strap-on liquid rocket boosters making up the first stage, with a central ‘sustainer’ motor powering through both the first and the second stage” Vostok 6: Vostok 6 was the first human spaceflight mission to carry a woman, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, into space. This also made her the first civilian in space. The spacecraft was launched on June 16, 1963. Data was collected on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight. Like other cosmonauts on Vostok missions, she maintained a flight log, took photographs, and manually oriented the spacecraft.

Her photographs of the horizon from space were later used to identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere. Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days. Conclusion Although the Soviet Union was off to the best start, (They launched satellites before the US did. ) it was the US that landed on the moon first, the last big milestone.

In my opinion this tells me that the U. S. won the space race, by putting a man on the moon. All in all however I think that both party’s (both the U. S. and the USSR) made important and life changing discoveries in the fields of science and space travel, and although finding and discovering these new things were not their actual goals (missile based warfare) I think that in the end, the discoveries that were made, benefited us and future generations, and encouraged further exploration into space travel!

Sources http://www. thespacerace. com http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Space_Race http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Space_Race http://www. newseum. org/cybernewseum/exhibits/dateline_moon/space. htm http://library. thinkquest. org/10826/spacerac. htm http://history. nasa. gov/ http://www. hyperhistory. net/apwh/essays/comp/c43tecja. htm

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