The race to space begins-Zach Ellis

The Beginning of a Revolution

The rise of Sputnik was one of the most important events in the 1950's. Sputnik was the first man made satellite to be launched into space. Sputnik was propelled into space, by the Soviet Union, on October 4, 1957. This was the beginning of the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Photo: history.nasa.gov.


During World War II the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies along with many others trying to defeat a common enemy, the Germans. But, as the war concluded the United States and the Soviets slowly turned arms on one another. Both nations were superpowers with opposing view points on government. The USSR was a communist nation while the USA was democratic. Government weren't the only problems in these nations, they both had the capabilities to create atomic bombs. The atomic bomb ruined the Japanese Empire during WWII and both nations were scared that the same would happen to them. Sputnik launching in the sky only made the American citizen more fearful. If the Soviets could launch a satellite into space, how long would it be until they could launch a bomb into our country. While the public was scared, the U.S. government welcomed the satellite because it allowed the government to implement a policy that allowed anyone to fly anywhere they wanted. These policies eventually helped both nations in the Cold War, even though Sputnik scared so many Americans when it first launched.

Sputnik Images

Sputnik's effect in the 50's

Launching Sputnik was a major achievement for the Soviet Union. It was one of the first times that the Soviet Union was technologically further than the Americans. This was expressed greatly throughout the Soviet Union and was even exaggerated by the Communist leaders. Sputnik was as much of a moral victory for the Russians as a technological victory. Meanwhile in America, it propelled the space program. Dwight D. Eisenhower took Sputnik as an opportunity to get the American people focused on one central problem like they did in world War II. It became a common goal throughout America to beat the Soviets in the rest of the space race. Photo: history.nasa.gov

Sputnik today

The effect of Sputnik was much more prevalent in further years than it was immediately. Sputnik kick started the Apollo missions and was one of the reasons the Americans were the first people to walk on the moon. It also changed the way we completed science projects. After Sputnik scientists became much more engaged in hands on projects and worked much harder to complete things that weren't necessarily militarily based. The space program pushed scientists into a new mentality of hard work. Lastly, it changed our education system pushing more and more kids into fields of math, science, and engineering. It's very much like today in that, more and more kids are pursuing engineering fields because they have very logical and plausible uses in the real world. Photo: uchigago.edu.