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The Space Race and its Effects on the Cold War

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Adam Melk

on 5 May 2014

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Transcript of The Space Race and its Effects on the Cold War

The Space Race and its
Effects on the Cold War

The Cold War was a rivalry that began after WWII between the two new superpowers: The USA, and USSR. The cold war became an arms race that escalated wildly out of control
The Space Race was a competition between Soviet Russia and the United States to achieve the most in the realm of space travel
The space race became the most important and key part of the competition of the Cold War
Early space programs
Early Russian space program
The Soviet Union was the first nation to ever create a true space program.
The Soviets wanted to prove to the world that the communist system was capable of achieving important technological developments, because during WWII they were seen to be behind the rest of the world technologically
The Soviet Space program was kept secret until the launch of Sputnik
On October 4, 1957 at 7:28 PM, the satellite Sputnik, the first man-made object to ever orbit the earth was launched.
The original design for Sputnik included scientific equipment to collect data for further launches, but the equipment was cut down to a simple two way radio and its casing to speed up the project's development
The radio installed in the satellite was able to transmit a beeping noise that could be heard on most radios across the globe
Sputnik had a huge impact on the psychology of the cold war; to most Americans this was a real shock and caused a panic about the Soviet military threat
After the launch of Sputnik, the United States government felt immediately impelled to create something of an equal caliber to bring themselves back ahead the Russians technologically
The United States president John F. Kennedy founded the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (or NASA) 9 months after Sputnik's launch, on July 29, 1958
Explorer 1
Explorer 1 was was the first successful satellite launch by the United States
The Explorer 1 satellite's fist launch attempt on December 6, 1957 failed due to the Vanguard rocket exploding, this launch was later called "Kuputnik". The second attempt to launch in January 31, 1958, now using the rocket Juno, was a great success and was the first satellite to detect the Van Allen radiation belt, giving the United States and its allies a large boost of confidence
Political Impact
The Launch of Sputnik shocked many people around the world because most thought the USSR to be technologically behind, due to their using outdated technology throughout WWII, and because most had a low opinion of the Communist system. When the Russians launched Sputnik, people began to think differently of their government and system. The successful launch proved that the Soviet Union was a true super-power.
The launch of the United States' Explorer 1 was more of a competitive response, than an independent achievement; it was just the beginning of a long race that would last for decades.
Technological uses
The biggest influence that the Space Race had on the Cold War was the development and creation of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM. During the development of Sputnik, Russian scientists began to see the possibilities of the technology, leading directly to the development of the first ICBM. The goal was to create a thermonuclear missile that could strike any place on the planet from bases in the USSR.
The creation of the ICBM was the biggest turning point in the Cold War and led to the arms race that is central to the Cold War.
With the launch of Explorer 1, the United States had tried to beat the Russians to some kind of new achievement, but failed. Only with landing a person on the Moon did the Americans beat the Russians in the space race, and then only because the Russians diverted their attention to colonizing space.
This landing has been seen as one of the biggest achievements of man, but this point is debatable, and is influenced by American propaganda
The Moon landing was taken as a turning point for the United States, it was the true first victory. After the Moon landing, the Space Race began to take a new form as the Cold War began to cool down.
How the Space Race affected the Cold War
The Space Race primarily affected the Cold War through its technological contributions, it also brought popular support for the space programs in both nations and a new found patriotism after the horrors of WWII. This was especially true in the Soviet Union which was still recovering from the devastation of the German invasion.
The Space Race was also beneficial to the United States government because it removed attention from the violent aspects of the Cold War
Current day
After the Cold War began to die down, the USSR and United States started working together on many projects, one of which being the International Space Station or ISS. Though there was not as much rivalry as before, rivalry still continues in the nations' collaborative efforts
United States reaction
After the launch of Sputnik, the United Sates government rushed the production of their own rocket to match the Soviet achievement. Much to their disappointment the Explorer 1 satellite on a Vanguard launch vehicle failed to clear the launch tower and exploded.
"Kaputnik" or "Flopnik"
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