Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2005, 22 Pages
Fakultät Sprach-, Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften
Institut Anglistik/ Amerikanistik
Hauptseminar The 1960s
The Space Race of the 1960s between the United States and the Soviet Union
Britta C. Ross
Table of Contents
I American – Soviet Foreign Relation in the 1960’s 4
II Space Race to the Moon 8
II. 1 Origin of the Space Race 9
II. 2 The U.S. American Apollo Program 11
II. 3 The Soviet Lunar Program 13
II. 4 Outcome of the Space Race 16
III Impact of the Space Race 17
The Space Race was first and foremost a race between the two superpowers of the Cold War, the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It grew out of the intense rivalry between these two nations immediately after the end of the Second World War. Each nation sought to establish technological supremacy in the military area first and later on in aeronautics and astronautics. Certainly, the Space Race was propelled by civilian and military goals as well as political propaganda within and outside the respective countries.
Although there are numerous opinions about the exact date of its actual origin, there is, however, widespread consensus that the seminal event was the launching of the artificial satellite Sputnik1 by the Soviet Union in 1957. It elevated the level of the race in the consciousness of citizens of both countries and those of the larger world. The response of the Americans to this incident and the subsequent actions of the Soviet Union after this event in time became the brick and the mortar of the Space Race.
This rivalry continued until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent joint agreement between the Americans and the Soviets to build the International Space Station in 1996. Since then, the race has turned from rivalry and competition within narrow nationalistic and political parameters to open collaboration between the erstwhile enemies.
This report addresses the main aspects of the Space Race, with particular emphasis on its origin, how it was executed, and its impact on the two countries that fought it and the other countries of the world. Additionally, an assessment is made of the general political climate within the two adversarial countries that were involved in the Space Race.
I American – Soviet Foreign Relation in the 1960’s
The 1960’s were still a period of the Cold War, characterized by East-West competition, threats and tension, but also short periods of relaxation in the bilateral relations. Based on opposing ideologies - capitalism vs. communism - each side had its international objectives such as expansion of its influence over the world, stabilization of its order, and gaining superiority among others (Larson 221). As a result, the world experienced an extremely dangerous nuclear arms race by the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. This development started in the 1950’s, which is why this decade is shortly touched upon.
In the middle of the 1950’s, after the death of the Soviet hard-liner Stalin, his successor Krushchev announced the possibility of peaceful coexistence of the two systems and initiated a period of relaxation and increased economic exchange, which is called détente. From the Soviet perspective, expanded trade with the West was viewed as supporting its foreign policy in three ways. First, an economic relationship with the West would ensure the relaxation between the West and the East. Second, new acquired Western technologies would help the Soviet Union prosper and ensure the material basis for a steady growth of its economy. The Kremlin chiefs had noted that it was increasingly impossible for them to obtain advanced technology because there had been imposed “restrictions on Soviet access to […] military and industrial goods” due to their policy of covert acquisition of Western technology. Lastly, wider commerce was seen as being beneficial in stabilizing socialist countries in Central Europe, mainly East Germany and with that “enhance the international legitimacy of the social order in the region” (Parrott 36).
The United States welcomed the new Soviet line of course because their foreign economic policy, being a framework for the Cold War era, also pursued specific goals by the expansion of economic trade and investment, which basically meant the containment of communism as approved in the Containment Policy, increase of the people’s standard of living, and prevention of sanctions against American products in Central Europe.
In 1957, the pursuit of détente was abruptly stopped, when the Soviet Union surprisingly launched the first artificial satellite Sputnik in space, which left the US in shock and panic. This event along with its potential implications encouraged Krushchev to turn away from his previous moderate foreign policy upon perceiving his apparent ballistic superiority over the US (Taubmann et. al 216).
Along these lines, the satellite flight was likely not only the turning point of the political climate but also the starting point for the bilateral ballistic arms and rocketry race that soon spread into space. The American President in charge, Eisenhower, immediately called for an own rocketry program. Several months later, in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act was approved and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded. Additionally, the development of nuclear weapons was emphasized, since there was the assumption that the United States was behind, the USSR in missile technology. In order to finance the strategic weapons program, both President Eisenhower and Premier Krushchev understood that it was necessary to cut the budgets of defense by reducing conventional military forces, mainly the troops. These decisions were heavily criticized by several political leaders within their administrations (Grinevskij 295-296). The USSR was able to threaten the use of atomic bombs to pursue its goals as was best exemplified in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
But before that, both countries confronted each other over China and Berlin. With regard to China, Eisenhower believed that it was the extension of Russian Communism and therefore led hard politics in American-Sino relations. His goal was to undermine China’s influence in Asia and to raise skepticism toward its ally, Russia. At the beginning of the 1960’s, when China tried to occupy two Pacific islands, the US used military force against them.
Furthermore, it became obvious to China that the Soviets would not offer support against the United States. Here the US successfully prevented the spread of communism according to their policy.
Regarding Berlin, the Soviet Premier Krushchev threatened the US with a treaty he would enter into with East Germany’s government in order to secure its borders and to prevent emigration from East to West Germany via West Berlin. Boyle asserts in this respect that it was fortunate for Kennedy, who had no solution ready, that Krushchev unexpectedly decided to build the Berlin Wall in August 1961, by which the crisis seemed to be resolved for the time being (Boyle 139).
Meanwhile, President Kennedy had taken over the presidency in 1961 and was determined to pursue the containment policy, which, according to Boyle, ultimately worsened relations with the Soviet Union. Not until 1963, when the Cuban Missile Crisis, which could have led to nuclear war, was finally over, did the relations improve. After the disaster of the American invasion attempt at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961, Castro turned to the USSR for support in defense of Cuba, and in June 1962 Krushchev offered installment of “offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba” (Boyle 142). Only six months later, the Soviets had deployed twenty-four missiles, equipped with nuclear warheads, ready to attack the US. The Soviet Union, however, spread propaganda news that the deployment of missile bases was merely for defensive purposes. For a time being, Kennedy imposed a naval blockade, called quarantine, which was suggested by the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, while he weighed Krushchev’s requirements for the removal of the missiles.
US intelligence community had been thoroughly collecting and analyzing data on Cuban military activity since the beginning of 1960. Signal intelligence, in particular, played an important part in discovering deployment of Soviet weapons on Cuban ground. NSA intercepted messages talking about Soviet ships heading for Havana, Cuba, the cargo manifests of which raised suspicion amongst intelligence officers. Additionally, intelligence caught Cubans discussing the arrival of tanks related to the Soviet cargo ship “Nikolay Burdenko”, which had arrived at the Cuban port of Mariel. Even more ominous to the NSA appeared the facts that the unloading of ships was done very secretively and well guarded and that Cuban pilots were trained in Czechoslovakia. Again, signal intelligence intercepted respective messages and with that provided sufficient evidence to question the Soviet Union’s intent to deploy defensive weapons on Cuba (“NSA and the Cuban Missile Crisis” 1).
The Kremlin chief kept calling for America not to invade Cuba, and also to remove American missiles from Turkey. In the end, both countries found a consensus based on Krushchev’s proposal. Coincidentally with the end of the crisis, Krushchev and Kennedy realized the direct danger of a nuclear war, which would have had disastrous consequences for all people, despite America’s nuclear superiority and the Soviet’s capability to strike first (Boyle 142-147). Sergey Krushchev, the son of Nikita Krushchev, explicitly outlines in his book that his father was not planning at any time on leading a war with the United States because he understood unlike anyone else the capacity for mass destruction of nuclear arms. According to the Soviet foreign policy and attitude, their goal was to achieve strategic balance with the US in order to strengthen the Soviet position in negotiations with the Americans based on the equaled ratio of nuclear weapons (Taubmann et. al 237).
Consequently, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, both Krushchev’s and Kennedy’s attitude toward the East-West relations underwent major changes. They started to seek an understanding with one another and a consensus over the nuclear race. In that improved atmosphere, the Soviet Union and the US signed the Limited Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water in August 1963. Three months before that, in June 1963, Kennedy had declared “that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one.” (Kennedy 2). This treaty marked the first real chance to pursue a policy of peaceful coexistence between the two countries (Taubmann et.al 272).
Unfortunately, this period of relaxation did not last long. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 und Krushchev’s dismissal from leadership in 1964 inaugurated the restoration of the old political climate. Particularly, the new Soviet leadership under Krushchev’s successor Leonid Brezhnev returned to the old policy of “balanced armed forces” in order to reach parity with the other superpower. Not surprisingly, from the middle of the 1960’s onward, the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union became tense again (Taubmann et.al 274).
II Space Race to the Moon
In this section I survey the famous Space Race between the Americans and the Soviets in the 1960’s through a snapshot of the historical events within the two countries that brought it about. Despite several major differences in administration, technology, and funding, space efforts of both countries had two things in common: their overall goal was to be the first nation to reach the Moon; the space activities and research were fundamental to the nation’s military strength, ensuring its international power and prestige (Newton 15). The authors Johnson-Freese und Handberg even refer to the space efforts as a “Cold War Space Paradigm”, being a product of the historical chronology and “peculiar arrangements” over time. Apart from that, they state that space activities and assets are tools for the government, since they are part of the framework of national foreign policy objectives (7).
However, opinions about the actual beginning of the Space Race differ in relevant literature, which is further discussed in the following chapter. It is widely accepted that the race predominantly took place from 1960 - 1969. In the first third of this timeline, the Soviets dominated the race in terms of launching the first satellite, first animal in space, first man in space, first try to hit the Moon, and first picture of the Moon’s backward side (“Space Race Backstory” 1).
The media, in fact, played a significant role in shaping the public’s awareness of the race in both countries. Soviet announcements via TASS, the Soviet government press center, were always made in reference to the Marxist-Leninist ideology of superiority and success of the socialist system, thus only publishing successful and advantageous events. About failures the Soviet press was silent. American journalists, in contrast, widely reported the sudden Soviet threat, not realizing that the US was catching up slowly to their Soviet adversary (Shefter 101).
In the years 1965 and 1966, the United States took the lead because it was able to launch ten manned missions in space after having successfully developed its spacecraft of the next-generation Gemini. Meanwhile, the US had also started to experiment on operational techniques necessary for the planned Moon landing. The USSR, by that time, managed to launch only one manned mission because its focus had shifted away from their next-generation project Soyuz.
The years 1967 and 1968 were disastrous for both countries. Soviet and American astronauts died while on space missions. Nevertheless, the competitors kept working on manned space flights, and the US was heavily executing launches. As a result, in July 1969 NASA completed a Moon landing, which is considered to be the victory for the US and the end of the Space Race (“Space Race Backstory” 1-2).
II. 1 Origin of the Space Race
While discussing the origins of the Space Race, a brief look is taken of the beginnings of the enabling technologies, along with political decisions and events that ultimately brought about the Space Race. The rocket technology, the basis for spacecraft drive, had its beginnings with the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who already in 1903 designed his first rocket that was operated with liquid oxygen. Later on, he speculated on space flights, became president of the USSR Academy of Science and wrote numerous works about astronomy, astronautics, and physics. Today he is known as the father of space research (Newton 14).
In the 1930’s, the Soviet intelligence first received information about the development of German rockets and had paid close attention to it ever since. Nazi Germany was testing rocket weapons under the supervision of Wernher von Braun at the secret center in Peenemuende and in Poland. Later on, it was in Poland where the Soviets recovered the first remnants of secret equipment in 1944, which gave a boost to their own calculations about missile trajectory and aerodynamics (“Rockets” 1). Simultaneously, the Russian engineer Sergej Korolev single-handedly developed carrier rockets and the first spacecraft, which became the basis for the Soviet space flights after it was proven that the German rockets had significant inadequacies, so that Korolev’s project was given priority (Parrott 177).
Certainly, there was research going on by the Americans. The pioneering figure was Robert H. Goddard who in the 1930’s invented a liquid fuel rocket. This technology was also based on German achievements, the German Repulsor rocket. The testing of such rockets was managed by the American Interplanetary Society, which was founded in 1930 and incorporated into the Institution of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1963 (“Early U.S. Rocketry” 1).
Since the end of the World War II and the beginning of the Cold War rivalry, however, predominantly military space effort had been maintained as a part of the foreign policy objectives, ensuring national defense and aiming at world leadership. Thus, space activity was directed by the government and heavily dependent on it in terms of prioritizing and funding. Considering this background, three different opinions about the actual beginning of the Space Race have been formed, of which the first one directly connects it to the space efforts from the beginning of the Cold War. Representatives of this opinion are, for instance, Joan Johnson-Freese and Roger Handberg, who made the attempt of reassessing the space programs in 1997 from the perspective of the 21st century (8).
The second view declares the launching of the first satellite by the Soviets in 1957 as the beginning of the Space Race, which challenged the US to react in order to catch up. Although the reaction of the American scientists and the president were rather moderate and skeptical of further Soviet technological capability, the American public as well as the Congress were stunned and shocked, fearing the American military was unable to catch up and defend the country (Newton 17). In the end, the Eisenhower administration responded quickly by approving the National Aeronautics and Space Act in July 1958 and founding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, in October 1958. NASA turned out to be a civilian space agency although Eisenhower was reluctant in creating such an agency because he rather wanted the military space policy “Open Skies” being developed, which aimed at satellite reconnaissance and a missile delivery system for nuclear weapons (Johnson-Freese and Handberg 8). The National Aeronautics and Space Act forms the framework for research into “flights within and outside the earth’s atmosphere.” It states that the activities in space should be peaceful and of maximum use for commerce. Additionally, the space research shall contribute to the following objectives: expansion of the knowledge about Earth, atmosphere, and space; development and launching of vehicles that are capable of carrying equipment to space; preservation of the superiority of the US in space and aeronautical science and technology; and last, to support collaboration with other nations (“National Aeronautics and Space Act” 1).
The third opinion, finally, suggests that the race began with the approval of the U.S. space program Apollo by President J.F. Kennedy, shortly after he had taken office in May 1961. With this program Kennedy set new standards with the nation’s commitment to achieve the goal of putting Americans on the Moon first, returning them safely to the Earth, and all before the end of the decade (“The Soviet Manned Lunar Program” 2).
II. 2 The U.S. American Apollo Program
The Apollo Space Program, established by President Kennedy in 1961 marked the beginning of the modern U.S. space program by shifting the emphasis from satellite technology and missile delivery systems to human exploration in space and large-scale engineering. The centerpiece of this program was the intrepid goal to land the first man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth within the decade of the 1960’s. Kennedy’s desire, determination and faith in America’s scientific and technological power led to his decision. In addition, his thinking as an anti-Communist to “assure the survival and the success of liberty” (Boyle 135) framed his determination to establish American superiority in military as well as economic respects (Beschloss 51).
Challenged by the ongoing demonstrations of Soviet capability in space including several launches of satellites and probes as well as the Earth orbiting of Yuri Gagarin in April 1961, the Americans had to respond quickly. Immediately, the budget of NASA was increased tenfold, which provided the financial security for the new program (McCurdy 83). Before that, Vice- President L.B. Johnson in collaboration with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and NASA chief administrator James Webb had investigated the chances of beating the Russians in space and the necessary budget for an accelerated space program. Furthermore, they had started to convince “political leaders of the need for an aggressive lunar landing program” (Beschloss 58).
At the same time, public interest in space science, rocket technology, and detailed knowledge regarding space exploration had exploded. This, combined with the enthusiasm and commitment of the Kennedy administration, captured the American imagination, and this in turn made them bly support the space program because it promised the chance to establish American superiority in space (Beschloss 63).
In fact, the public was always able to freely follow the NASA events, which were extensively presented by the media. Not only did NASA publish its ongoing processes, but also the news coverage consistently reported in detail about policy making in general, along with debates and consensus finding. This type of news coverage clearly contrasted with the policy of secrecy that surrounded their Soviet counterpart. Moreover, the American press and television widely reported space activities, exposing possible dangers, predominantly of the manned missions at the beginning of the 1960’s, seemingly serving the NASA’s interest and creating confidence in its competences with this. After a successfully accomplished mission, the press, certainly, explained the consequences of hypothetical malfunctions. Overall, national interest in the U.S. space program remained intense and sympathetic until the mid 1960’s. This situation was additionally supported by the “personalization of the American space effort through the astronaut corps,” which was promoted as the “embodiment of American values” such as bravery, patriotism, God-fearing faith (McCurdy 86-88).
As soon as L.B. Johnson took over the presidential office after Kennedy’s assassination, he was confronted with several explosive political issues, such as the Vietnam War, the intensifying Civil Rights movement, and the self-announced War on Poverty that he had immediately to decide over the respective budgets. Believing in the Apollo Project, he continued to provide NASA with sufficient finances, against the wishes of his advisors who suggested that the Moon landing be deferred. With that the commitment to put the Americans on the Moon first within the 1960’s remained in reach.
Technically, the Apollo space program was divided into two missions: first, the Earth and Moon orbital missions with the numbers 1, 7, 8, 9, 10 and secondly, the Moon-landing missions No. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Here, all missions landed on the Moon surface except Apollo 13, which was forced to return to Earth because of an explosion in one of the oxygen tanks. Mission Apollo 1 stands for the first catastrophe for NASA in 1967, because three astronauts were killed in a pre-launching fire. Afterwards all missions were completed as planned. Eventually, Apollo 11 took Neil Armb and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon who made the first human steps on its surface on July 20th, 1969. The primary mission was accomplished - to land on the Moon and return safely to Earth. The spacecraft, which took the astronauts to their destinations, consisted of Saturn V rockets with the powerful F-1 engines, lunar modules, and command modules (“The Apollo Program” 1-2).
In summary, the American lunar program Apollo represents a major milestone of human scientific and technological advancements. This program was administratively and technically highly elaborated; was “one of the largest undertakings ever set upon by the federal bureaucracy” (McCurdy 96). Nationally, the space program stood for effective governmental execution and control, unifying the nation during a time when political turmoil was predominant.
II. 3 The Soviet Lunar Program
From the beginning of the Cold War on, the Soviets had their space exploration program set up. The basic idea was provided by Sergej Korolev, a gifted inventor and visionary who wanted to explore space by all means, when he explained to Krushchev the chances to use the intercontinental missile R-7 as a satellite launch vehicle. This happened in 1954. Only a few years later, the Soviet Premier Krushchev integrated the Soviet Space Program in the political agenda. With that Soviet space efforts became a tool in pursuing the main objective of the Soviet Union to gain superiority in the world as a way of showing that communism was the best form of government. As is known, in 1957 the world experienced the Soviet capabilities in space for the first time.
The Soviet space program was secretive from the beginning, so much so that the manned lunar program that was increasingly promoted by Korolev was not officially acknowledged until the decline of the Soviet Union. In contrast to the American space program, the Russian counterpart primarily worked behind closed doors and withheld major information about its program. Discussions of decision-making concerning organization, financing or administration were secrets. Accordingly, the national public was only informed of successfully operated space activities. The policy of secrecy was also extended to the location and as long as possible to the existence of major launch sites (Newton 24-25).
Meanwhile, Korolev had designed the spacecraft Vostok which took Yuri Gagarin to space and represents the opening of the manned lunar program. Engaged by Krushchev, Korolev formulated three main goals for the Soviet lunar program. First, he wanted to prove that manned space flight was possible. The second objective was to develop lunar vehicles which would be able to land on the Moon’s surface and prevent the astronauts from sinking into the dust. The third technologically related objective pursued the development of a powerful rocket (N-1) that would be able to take the spacecraft with the astronauts to the Moon. According to scientists, the most difficult task to resolve was the development of such a powerful rocket, which was additionally pressured to succeed in a time frame of three years, from 1962-1965 (“Russian and American Methods of Space Exploration” 2).
However, unlike the American Space Program, the Soviet lunar program was not a centralized plan for reaching the Moon. As soon as the Central Committee had approved the lunar program, several rival design bureaus had emerged which designed and built missiles or spacecrafts. Apart from Korolev, there were three more influential designers: Vladimir Chemoley, who had experience in military missiles, Valentin Glushko, a designer of rocket engines, and Mikhail Yangel, another rocket designer. Eventually, the Soviet leadership chose one spacecraft project out of the three, which should serve the lunar landing program. Since Korolev had faced problems in developing his N-1 rockets, the designer Chemoley was assigned by Krushchev in 1962 to prepare manned spaceflight to the Moon although it was not intended to land on it. Still, between 1961 and 1963, Soviet space activities were carried out with the spacecraft Vostok, Korolev’s invention, proving the Soviet’s superiority by setting new ‘firsts’ in space. Only in 1964, shortly before Krushchev’s removal from power, the Central Committee passed a resolution based on Korolev’s new project Soyuz that pursued the study of the Moon and the landing of a single man on its surface in 1967-1968, just before the Apollo flights. With this, the lunar decision was made; the project was called L3. Parallel to the L3 project, Krushchev assigned the Chemoley bureau to the LK-1 project, aiming to send cosmonauts around the Moon. Again, progress was hindered by the rivalry of the two design teams, consuming enormous amount of money and time.
In 1965, seemingly deriving from this decision, the new Soviet leadership under Leonid Brezhnev found a compromise. The Moon program was split into two parallel sections: the first sought to land men on the Moon by using Korolev’s plan, which meant that the giant rocket N-1 took the spacecraft Soyuz to the Moon. The second strand of the program included the LK-1 project of circumlunar activities and was called now L1, publicly known as Zond.
For this the Soyuz spacecraft would be launched by the Chemoley rocket UR-500 K. From the mid 1960’s onward, the Soviet Union successfully launched its missions Luna 1 through 17, mostly Moon orbiting and returning to the Earth as well as putting the Moon vehicle Lunochod on the lunar surface. Five missions of the Zond series (No 3, 5, 6, 7, 8), using the spacecraft Soyuz, between 1965 and 1970 were successfully completed although they failed to put astronauts on the Moon. Yet, unmanned Zond 5 caused a sensation by flying around the Moon for the first time in 1968. (“The Soviet Manned Lunar Program” 4-9).
Due to Korolev’s death in 1966, lack of funds and setbacks by accidents, the Soviet lunar program had to face delays, but pressed ahead while observing the Americans catching up with their successful Apollo series.
The Soviets tried desperately to land probes on the Moon and to make the spacecraft work for manned landing when the American Neil Armb became the first man on the Moon in 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission. Although this meant humiliation and loss of the race to the Moon to the Soviets, they kept the N-1 rocket alive and slightly shifted the focus of the space program. Now, the emphasis was on Soyuz flights practicing dockings and spacewalks and the development of the Salyut space station program. In 1974, meanwhile Valentin Glushko had become chairman of the lunar program, neither the government nor the military showed any interest anymore and cancelled it. In 1976, he was put in charge of a new human space program when the Central committee ordered to plan a Soviet shuttle project as an equivalent to the American Space Shuttle (“The Soviet Manned Lunar Program” 13-14).
To sum up briefly, the Soviets were able to take a leading role in the first half of the Space Race by applying rugged, but revolutionary technology and operating it successfully in space. Unfortunately, towards the end of the 1960’s, the Soviet lunar program struggled with shifting policy objectives and ongoing rivalry between the national design bureaus, which caused delays and failures.
II. 4 Outcome of the Space Race
Considering the Space Race as a competition in the true sense of the word, the Americans first achieved their goal to put a man on the Moon before the dawn of 1970 and won it.
The Soviets, nevertheless, dominated the race for a long time. Korolev designed the Vostok manned spacecraft which made their lead in the first half of the 1960′s possible. But the achievements in space meant more than technological success. In contrast to the US, for the USSR the space efforts most of all supported the political ideology. The Communist party of the Soviet Union claimed that only the Communist system as the best social system was able to provide the ideal prerequisites for the development of science and technology and thus strength of the nation.
Threatened by the Cold War philosophy and equally inspired by its technological forerunners, the Americans feverishly developed space technology and rapidly caught up and even overtook their Soviet adversaries.
Apart from striving for superiority, the space activities for the Americans proved their capability to propel science and technology skillfully. Throughout the 1960’s, the nation was awestruck by the achievements of the aerospace industry, efficiently supervised by the government.
Generally, both programs, while being highly visionary, proved that humans were able to reach the moon and with that directed human imagination to a so far unknown dimension.
III Impact of the Space Race
Although the space race was fraught with danger, it had many beneficial side effects. Numerous inventions and innovations that have made life easier to live in the modern world can trace their origins back to the Space Race.
A first wave of innovation emerged right after the launching of the Soviet satellite because America feared that it would fall behind the Soviet Union in education. Thus, policy-makers and educators emphasized teaching of natural sciences, which gave a boost to technological development and innovation throughout the 1960’s. After this period, the interest in science declined. Currently, scientists and economists are concerned with the question if a new kind of race – the Tech Race – is about to start since globalization in economy demands new ethics in science and technology.
However, throughout the past several decades, fields such as engineering, medicine, micro technology, and chemistry benefited from the technological and scientific achievements of the Space Race. In medicine, for instance, novel and life-saving drugs are routinely made today in the zero gravity environment of outer space. Electronically, navigational systems like Global Positioning System (GPS) that have revolutionized modern air, sea, and land transport were invented within the auspices of secret US Military space research. Advanced composite materials developed within NASA’s research laboratories during the Space Race are now used in military and civilian aircrafts, bicycles, and automobiles (General knowledge).
American as well as Soviet achievements in space have revolutionized people’s view of the universe. This is the major reason why both nations have maintained and continued to develop their space policies since the fall of the socialist regime in Soviet Union in the 1991, which made modifications necessary and opened new prospects. The new Russian Space Agency, which was formed immediately after the breakup of the USSR, focuses on manned and unmanned civilian space flights. Its current priority project is the MIR Space Station that has remained in orbit since 1986. Moreover, the Russian Space Agency is one of the main partners in the International Space Station program (ISS) that makes up the ultimate turning point in space discovery because it unifies former adversaries in a partnership. Unfortunately, Russian space industries are fighting to stay in shape because the governmental spending on national space exploration is steadily decreasing. Most of it is spent on the ISS, maintaining the carrier space craft Soyuz and Progress cargo ships. Only on October 14, 2004, the latest launch of two Russian and one American astronaut to ISS had taken place. Nevertheless, the Russian Space Agency pursues new goals, such as sending a robot to Mars by 2009 or flying a manned mission to it by 2014. All it needs is money (“A Renewed Spirit of Discovery” 1).
Not only does Russia have a new Space policy, but also the US presented a new vision for space exploration. On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush announced his President’s Vision: A Renewed Spirit of Discovery. This declaration provides the framework for the conduction of a new space program, valid for the next two decades. The major goal of it is to enhance economic, scientific, and security interests of the country by exploring the solar system, returning to the Moon by 2020, conducting robotic missions to Mars, exploring Jupiter’s moons, searching for new resources and habitable environments (“A Renewed Spirit of Discovery” 1).
The Space Race of the 1960’s has had another impact on modern industries that would have been unthinkable in previous times. It has inspired the opening of an era of private space travel. In 1996, the New Space Race had been initiated by announcing the so-called X Prize Competition. The goal of this competition was to build, launch, and privately finance a spacecraft that would be capable of taking three people to Earth orbit, return them safely and repeat this within two weeks. The X Prize, meanwhile won by the SpaceShipOne project, was awarded with $ 10 millions. Undoubtedly, with this entrepreneurs have shown that it is possible to build efficient spaceships on a private basis. Furthermore, commercial space travel might be started soon and will affect aviation and civilization in unpredictable ways.
The Space Race that had grown out of fierce rivalry between the two superpowers of the Cold War was a crucial element of the political agenda of the USA and the USSR throughout the 1960’s. In order to serve their political and ideological goals to be the first nation on the Moon and to establish superiority and international prestige, both countries set up space programs, which were consistently directed and financed by the respective governments.
The framework for successful American space activities had been established by founding the space agency NASA, the approval of the National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958 and by the announcement of the lunar program Apollo in 1961 by President Kennedy. Equally, the Soviet government had a space exploration program set up since the beginning of the Cold War, which was expanded by the Soviet Lunar Program in 1956. Major differences between the competing space programs were their administration, applied technology and the amount of finances. For instance, the American space program was openly publicized whereas its Soviet counterpart, being integrated into a military administration, was exclusively secretive.
With regard to the actual Space Race, the Soviets dominated it during the first half of the 1960’s by demonstrating successful space operations with new technology and intrepid venture into outer space. The US soon caught up and took the lead after 1965, successfully launching manned missions in space by using new spacecraft technology. Toward the end of the 1960’s, both lunar programs experienced major setbacks by fatal accidents of astronauts. Nevertheless, the US was able to land on the Moon first by 1969, whereas the Soviet space program struggled with the rivalry between national design bureaus and changing policies, which are considered to be the major reasons for ongoing failures and delays during this time.
Undoubtedly, the Space Race has left very significant marks on the entire world, not just only on the two principal adversaries that competed in it. It brought about numerous scientific and technical innovations that have improved our lives and our understanding of space, and expanded our horizons. Humans have now walked on the Moon and its composition of the well established.
Another intriguing attribute of this race is its ability to change with the times. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, both Russia and US have transformed their respective space policies, focusing more on the exploration of the solar system, with planned robotic and manned missions to Mars, searches for new resources and habitable environments, all geared toward enhancing economic, scientific and security interests of their respective countries. Furthermore, a new Space Race was originated, which is now inspiring a new era of private commercial space travel. Numerous aftermaths of the Space Race and present and improved possibilities of it abound.
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 Sputnik (Russian) means satellite or traveler
 Vostok (Russian) means East
 N stands for nositel’ (Russian) meaning carrier
 Soyuz (Russian) means union
 Zond (Russian) means probe
 Lunochod (Russian) means moonwalk
 Salyut (Russian) means greeting
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