Rocket launches are a thrilling event; they were also a large contribution during the Space Race for US’s victory over the Soviet Union. The world was yet to experience something as magnificent as seeing something so large take off so fast, they are truly lucky. The anticipation of the crowd, as well as the pilot, is tangible. The pilot accelerates to hypersonic speed and takes off for space. Scientists did not always have our modern technology but they succeeded in their efforts to get a rocket into space. A rocket is a specially designed vehicle used for space travel, propelled by rocket engines. The V2 missile was the first rocket which could fly high enough to reach space, launched by Germany in 1942. Next, in 1957 Sputnik launched, the first Russian satellite. An R-7 ICBM rocket was used. The launch of Sputnik was the beginning of the Space Race, one of the most important events in American history. It began in the mists of the Cold War, a war that would not only take place on earth but in space as well. The US and the USSR realized that conquering space would be a significant media event and would also prove a country’s scientific and military superiority to the other countries. Both nations were competing against each other to be the first to launch a satellite, the first to put a man in space, and, the main goal, the first to reach the moon (Bernards 6). Throughout this race each country experienced setbacks and breakthroughs, but all paths led to the positive effect of the US’ victory. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were the first to land on the moon. Their conversation with Houston consisted of the following: HOUSTON: 30 seconds [fuel remaining].
EAGLE: Contact light! OK, engine stop . . . descent engine command override off . . .
HOUSTON: We copy you down, Eagle.
EAGLE: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed!
HOUSTON: Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot. ” The Space Race had a positive effect on the USA. These effects included the satellite launches, manned rocket launches, and the US’s victory of being the first to walk on the moon.
The USSR’s October 4, 1957 Sputnik launches led to positive effects on the USA. One effect was the start of the Space age and the beginning of the US- USSR Space Race. Dwight Eisenhower feared the consequences of a military domination of space, creating NASA (Lee 31). In July 1958, congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which created National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is designed to operate separately from the Department of Defense and is also required to make its research available to the American public. Since NASA’s start they have developed their own rockets, spacecrafts, and communications networks. One of NASA’s goals is to explore “…space for peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind (Billings 8).” Congress also passed a massive federal aid-to-education measure due to the Sputnik I launch. Sputnik’s successful launch meant the Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the United States would take place in outer Space as well as on Earth.
The Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard proposal was chosen to represent the US during the IGY, or International Geophysical Year, in September of 1955. Werner von Braun with the help of his Army Redstone Arsenal team began working on the Explorer I project. On January 31, 1958, the United States’ successful launch of Explorer I led to the discovery of the magnetic radiation belt around the Earth. In January of 1967, a fire destroyed a prototype command module, killing the crew of Apollo 1 but four manned flights in late 1968 and early 1969 paved the way for a historic launch of Apollo 11. On board were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two men to reach the moon and Michael Collins, who orbited the moon in the command module on July 20, 1969, making the US the winners of the Space Race.
The Soviets Vostok launches led to the positive effects of the American Apollo Launches. Since the start of the Space Race it seemed the soviets would win, managing to stay one step ahead of the US. Both nations were competing against each other to be the first to launch a satellite, the first to put a man in space, and the first to reach the moon. The soviets won most of the competitions such as their launch of Sputnik I. The soviets launched Cosmonaut Valeri Bykovsky two days prior to the Vostok 5 launch. Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew on Vostok 6 from June 16th through the 19th of 1963. Due to these accomplishments of the soviets, Werner von Braun began to lead a team to develop the Saturn V booster. It was later used to send Apollo astronauts to the moon. The US launched Apollo 8 on December 21, 1968 due to the Soviets Luna 2 launch on September 12, 1959. On board were Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders, first to orbit the moon.
US’s Victory was an extremely important media event. The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and the American president Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all believed conquering outer space was very important. Both nations competed for the political allegiance of the other third-world countries. Both nations wished to be the first to launch a satellite, to put a man in space, and, most important, first to reach the moon. To motivate the people Kennedy gave a speech on May 25, 1961, to congress saying “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project… will be more exciting, or more impressive to mankind, or more important… and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish…” On July 20, 1969, at 4:17 pm. Eastern time, we accomplished Kennedy’s goal, Neil Armstrong announced “Houston… the Eagle has landed.” He was the first man to set foot on the moon announcing “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind (Billings 10).”
The US won the Space Race proving their superiority over the Soviet Union. Only eight years after President Kennedy challenged the US to land a man on the moon were we successful. By sending astronauts to the moon the US achieved a “political goal” and proved to the World its scientific superiority and their military strength to the Soviet Union. The Space Race took a total of 400,000 American employees from 20,000 companies and $25 billion to complete the Apollo mission.
The Space Race was an extremely important event in American history as well as other nations. The Soviets did everything in their power to win the Space Race. It would seem the Soviets would win due to their continual success. The USSR’s Sputnik launch had propelled America to accomplish the successful Vanguard and Explorer launches. The two nations also competed with being the first to put a man in space. Once again the Soviets had the advantage of being first to launch Vostok, later followed by the American Apollo launch. Both nations knew it would be an extremely important media event and they competed vigorously to be the first to land on the moon, thus proving better then the other.