The Race To Space Essay

1356 words - 5 pages

The Race to Space


The tension that existed between the U.S. and Russia during the years after WWII was not only a time that both countries patiently tried to keep the world from another war, but was also a time of great rivalry in the exploration of space. As both counties diligently experimented with plans for creating a way to get into the vastness of space, spies on both sides were already in place to steal those ideas. And so the space race begun. Both countries wanted to be the first to succeed so millions were spent as the world watched as the U.S. and Russia went head to head in a battle that would change the world forever.
The space race began with the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957 as Roy Silver and other reporters announced the next day reported that "Radio signals from the first satellite launched yesterday by the Russians were broadcast to radio and television audiences here last night."The competition was to be the first to loft a satellite into space and had begun way before Sputnik launched. After the end of World War II, research on rockets for upper-atmosphere research and military missiles was extensive. Engineers knew they would be able to launch a satellite to orbit Earth sooner or later. The first United States proposal to place a satellite in orbit was made in 1954 by the U.S. Army. It was not until January 31, 1958, that the United States joined the Soviets in space. The Space Age began for the world's superpowers when the Soviets put Sputnik I, the first man made satellite, into a shallow Earth orbit. Sputnik carried a battery-operator radio transmitter that beeped as it circled the globe every 95 minutes. The 185-pound Sputnik became a symbol of Soviet success, for the first time man had broken his gravitational shackles. To military strategists, Sputnik was confirmation that the intercontinental ballistic missile had surpassed the strategic bomber as the weapon of the future. In late July of 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that the United States would launch several small satellites, which was to begin July 1, 1957. Within a couple days, the Russians announced similar intentions, but the Soviet satellite would be larger than the American one. By mid-1957, the official Soviet press suggested the first launch was months away. Few people in the United States paid much attention to the prediction though. On October 4, 1957, Sputnik lifted off. Sputnik was only in orbit for three weeks, but those who tracked it gained valuable information about the destiny of the upper atmosphere and the manner in which it altered the satellite's orbit. On January 4, 1958, after ninety-two days in orbit, Sputnik I re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up. On November 3, 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik II. It was a much heavier satellite, which carried the first living mammal into space. It was a dog named Laika. Laika died after ten days in space. Some of the information sent from...

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