The United State's Viewpoint

Made by Brenna Nelson and Amanda Nelson

What Was Sputnik?

The space race began on October 4, 1957, when Russian scientists launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, into Earth's orbit. This left the Unites States public caught off guard. Sputnik paved the path for all satellites and space crafts to come, it was capable of broadcasting two different radio frequencies while it orbited Earth fourteen times a day. This 23 inch diameter, 184 pound aluminum satellite, named "traveling companion" in Russian, would forever change the world.

America's Response

The United States had thought that the Soviet Union was far behind in technology. But they had replicated the atomic bomb, created the hydrogen bomb, and now were the first nation to send a satellite into space. This concerned many Americans, including President Eisenhower. If they could send a satellite into space, they couldn't be too far off from nuking the U.S. Even though Eisenhower called Sputnik, "a distinct surprise," he later commented at a press conference that the satellite "did not raise [his] apprehensions one iota." However, the general public--along with the media and political figures--expressed their concern for being behind in technology, and so the space race began.

The Space Race

Russian innovations in space technology led to the first successful launch of an artificial satellite into orbit in October 1957. Just one month later Russia sent Sputnik 2 into orbit. Aboard Sputnik 2, Laika a Mongrel/Husky mix, became the first animal to be launched into orbit. The Unites States, in hopes to keep up with the Soviets, created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in July 1958. Then in 1959 The Soviets launched a probe to land on the moon. These satellites and probe added more stress to the American engineers as they raced to get the first man on the moon. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy decided something must be done if America had any hopes of winning the space race. He called for the first man to land on the moon by the end of the 1960's. On July 20, 1969, America won the space race when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Impact on the Decade

By sending the first satellite into space, the Soviet Union spurred the world into innovating technology. The United States, keen on being ahead of the Soviets, created NASA to step up their game in the aerospace field. Our main focus was shifted to space. The space race motivated scientists to advance technology at uncanny rates. The Soviet Union and the United States both made ground-breaking discoveries. However, this was no friendly competition. Tensions increased drastically over the course of the decade and beyond. A rebirth of the Red Scare sprouted, the alliances of World War II long forgotten. Now, Americans were constantly uneasy with the Soviets neck-in-neck with their technology. This seed of uneasiness would play a part in America discarding its old ways of isolationism, and reinventing itself as the policeman of the world.

Connection to Today and Solutions for the Future

Due to the many advancements in space technology during the 1950's-60's we have reached new heights. Since 1957, when Sputnik was launched into orbit, the United States has achieved many great things. We put the first man on the moon, landed space crafts on Venus and Mars, orbited Mercury, landed a space craft on a comet, received the first photographs of Pluto, among many other amazing achievements. Without the early advancements in space technology made in the 1950's, the space programs of today wouldn't be as successful as they are. Had the Soviets not made the first initiate to explore the world beyond our world, NASA may never have been created, changing the world as we know it.


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