Space Race

by Jillian Moorman and Linnea Karahalios


After World War II, a new kind of war began. The Cold War. This war, however, was not just fought on the battle field, it was also a contest between two successful countries, the United States and Russia. They wanted to prove who was better, and so began the Space Race.

First Crafts Into Space:

Sputnik 1-

Russia was the first country to successfully launch the first object into space on October 4th, 1957. It was called Sputnik 1. It was a steel ball no bigger than a beach ball and it had four antennae attached. Although the Sputnik sent meaningless messages back to Earth and had no true practical use, it gave a scare to the US. They thought Russia was advancing much further in technology before they were. There was later a Sputnik 2 that was launched into space on November 3rd, 1957 still before the US launched any craft into space.
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Explorer 1-

The US, obviously motivated by Russia's advanced technology, did not want to fall behind. On January 31st, 1958, they launched their first craft, Explorer 1, into space. It, unlike the Sputnik, was able to gather data form space for as long as it's batteries lasted, which was about four months. While it was in orbit it made a discovery and sent back information of what was later named the Van Allen radiation belt. Some would say that because the US utilized their technology better that the Russians had, even if Russia did launch the first craft, the US was still ahead in the space race.
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First Humans Into Space:

Yuri Gagarin-

Yuri Gagarin was the first person up in space on April 12, 1961. Gagarin was Russian and he went into space less than a month before American, Alan Shepard. Not only was he the first man in space, but he was also the first to orbit around Earth. Gagarin's spacecraft, the Vostok 1, was going at a speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour and the flight lasted approximately 108 minutes.
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Alan Shepard-

Alan Shepard was the first American to go into space. But, he was not the first American to orbit around Earth. Shepard became the second person to go into space after Russian, Yuri Gagarin. He went into space with the Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961.
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Neil Armstrong-

Neil Armstrong was American and was the first man to set foot on the atmosphere of the moon. Armstrong was the commander of the Apollo 11 in 1969. On July 20, 1969, he and Edwin Aldrin successfully landed on the moon. As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Armstrong said this famous saying: "This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.".
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The US founded their still running space program, NASA, on October 1, 1958. It stands for National American Space Association. Overall, this was a big success for the US and it is continuously funded to promote more exploration of space. This is why the US won the Space Race.

Why the US won in this aspect of the Cold War:

Russia without a doubt sent it's technology to space first, but did it really win the Space Race? Russia's craft Sputnik 1 was sent out into space but all it did was send back meaningless signals. This proved their ability to got working technology into space but later the US sent the Explorer 1 into space. The Explorer 1 was different. It was able to send back data about outer space and it even discovered something called the Van Allen radiation belt. Russia also got the first human into space. This was a big deal, but the US getting a person to the moon was an even more advanced achievement. This showed that they had developed the technology to safely land a craft on the moon and allow an astronaut to exit and enter which could spark a new wave of discoveries. Overall, Russia was able to accomplish certain things first, but the US was able to better utilize their technology and were even able to develop a still functioning space program called NASA.