The Space Race

1945 -1960

The Cold War and The Space Age

The prelude to the infamous space race was founded in the heat of the cold war (no pun intended). After WWII the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a heated dispute over political and economical ideologies. It was thus stated, by Dwight Eisenhower himself, that the U.S. must battle "the increased danger from international communism." Both nations felt that the end of the Cold War could only be achieved through a demonstration of technological and economical superiority and so began the race for space.

Why Space?

Space presented a new frontier for science and technology for both nations. Both felt that space was at the apex of human exploration and would therefore be the ultimate display of power. But space turned out to be a much wider proving ground than was first anticipated. From launching the first satellite to landing the first manned mission on the moon, the possibilities became tantalizingly real.

Sputnik to Neil - The Space Age Begins

The race for space began in early August of 1955 when the Soviet Russians respond to the U.S.'s plans to launch an unmanned satellite into space. Early on in the race the Russians had a clear advantage on the U.S. when they launched the first unmanned probe into space. This satellite was named Sputnik 1and presented an particular issue for the American public as they felt an increased sense of nationalistic pride and necessity to best their rivals. On November 3rd 1957 the Russians once more had a clear advantage when they sent the first animal into space in the Sputnik 2. The space dog was named Laika. It wasn't until Jan 31st the next year that the U.S. launched its first satellite into space. The U.S. was back in the game. In late 1958, the U.S. launched the first communication satellite named SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment). It wasn't until 1959 that the race for the moon began, when Russian probe Luna 1 aimed to land on the moon.

Impact on The Decade

During the time period that spanned 1945-1960 numerous events placed strain on the relationship between both nations and their people. The technological advancements made by each nation helped improve the sense of nationalism within each superpower. Although this did place strains on the countries relations, the people felt they had an intimate connection with their country which, in turn, helped power the clashing of the two rivals.

Connections To Today And Solutions For The Future

The Space race continued for much time after Luna 1. From landing the first unmanned probe on the moon, to the first "weaponization of space," (Jones 2015) to the first man to walk on the moon. Television, news, weather reports, even your car radio would not exist without this technology. It then goes without saying that the world we know would be much different and possibly quite dull without this. (Even the Roomba would not exist!) Some may argue that the spirit of exploration has carried over from the Space Race and remains in today's society still. Inarguably, space remains a proving ground for science and an endless expanse withholding knowledge. Who knows what possibilities await man in the future. One thing is certain, So long as there is space to explore and learn about, mankind will continue to pour its heart and its soul into its exploration. Mankind's insatiable desire to explore can and will ultimately be the driving force behind our future achievements in science.


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Jones, S. "Satellite wars." Financial Times; London. 2015, November 21: 1.

Staff, "The Space Race." A&E Television Networks, 26 Apr. 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2016

Staff, Wikipedia. "Space Race." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

By Victor Johnson