Pre-AP English 1
3 October 2018
Prior to the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States were in competition with each other. Getting into space was no different. The Soviet Union was planning a project that would shock the world and alter history. Their plan was to the launch the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth. (Jones) The Space Race was a contest that ended in 1969, when the Americans landed on the moon. (Jones) In the 1950s, both the United States and the Soviet Union wanted to be the first to develop the technology needed to explore outer space.
The United States and the Soviet Union recruited German rocket scientists to help them develop rockets and missiles of their own. (Harrison) The Soviets’ wanted to be the first in space. For the United States, the objective was to get a working satellite up, and to have greater knowledge about space. For them, being the first was not the most important.(Downey) Both sides began developing rockets, and in 1955, the U.S declared their plan to launch a satellite.
Sputnik, or “fellow world traveler” in Russian, marked the beginning of the Space Age, and the Space Race. (Jones) The Soviet Union took control of the space race when they sent Sputnik, the first artificial satellite into space in 1961. Sputnik stunned Americans because they thought their technology was superior to the Russians, and just a month later the Soviets sent another satellite, with a dog aboard, into space. The Soviets’ initial advantage in the Space Race concerned Americans. They started to believe a “missile gap” had developed between the two nations. (Jones) Americans initial thought was that if the Soviet Union could launch a satellite into space, would U.S. cities ever become a target of the launch missiles? Would they use them to spy on the United States?
The Americans responded on Dec. 6, 1957 when they tried to launch a Navy Vanguard satellite. It only rose four feet into the air, turned into fire and fell. (Jones) The United States did successfully launch a satellite on Jan. 31, 1958: the Explorer I. (Jones) While the U.S. was still trying to catch up with the Soviets, Yuri Gagarin, in April 1961, became the first human in space and the first to orbit earth. Alan Shepard followed him a month later, however, he was unsuccessful in orbiting the Earth. On February 20, 1967, John Glenn circled the Earth three times in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. He instantly became an American hero. A year later, the Gemini missions began. Finally, the U.S. took the lead in the Space Race by achieving 10 manned space flights in Project Gemini. (Jones) The Americans finally won the race when Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ stepped foot on the moon in July 1969. (The Space Race)
In conclusion, the 1950’s was a time of great competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and advancement of aerospace engineering. This included developing the technology used to explore outer space and the United States having its own space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise called NASA. By the year 1972, there had been 12 Americans that had walked on the moon. Since then, no one has been back. (Jones) The competition continued, even after the Americans had won the race to the Moon. After the Space Race ended, America concentrated on other things related to advancing our knowledge of space and the technology used.