The Space Race

Class, Historical, Space travel

The Space Race was a competition of sorts between the United States and the Soviet Union that started in 1955 and led to the first artificial satellites being sent into orbit, the first humans being sent into space, and the first humans landing on the Moon. The USA was the first to announce intentions to create a satellite, and the race began when the USSR made a similar announcement just four days later, on August 2, 1955. The two large countries were already in an arms race thanks to their simultaneous discovery of German missile technology at the end of World War II, and there is no doubt that the sense of rivalry stemming from that fact contributed to both the Space Race and the Cold War.

As it happened, the USSR launched its satellite, Sputnik 1, first. They also were the first to successfully send humans into space, meaning all of the pressure was on the USA to get to the moon first. This was accomplished in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission, and after that the Space Race (along with the Cold War) slowly fizzled out.

Sputnik 1 replica

A replica of Sputnik 1

Buzz Aldrin

A photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, with Neil Armstrong reflected in the vizor


4 thoughts on “The Space Race

  1. The space race is a very interesting topic to study! Thinking about the Space Race and how the developments of the two countries encouraged the other to continue developments makes me wonder if the advances would have been made as quickly had there not been the rivalry between the USA and the USSR. How important was the Space Race to developments made during the second half of the 20th century? Would the same progress have been made if the rivalry wasn’t present?

  2. This post made me realize just how intertwined politics and science are. The space race probably wouldn’t have happened without the tension that was already between the USSR and the USA. I believe if we looked back in history we could find many examples of this such as the Manhattan Project or even most medical research. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think it is so interesting that the competition between the USA and USSR to be the most advanced country lead to such astounding and important developments in our study and understanding of the universe. WIthout the Space Race, who knows whether or not we would have been as motivated, daring, or fast in sending people to the moon.

  4. The progress made during the space race was incredible, but think about what might have happened had the Soviets been the first to land on the moon. I don’t think the US would have given up, but instead they would have tried to do something even more impressive. Maybe the US “winning” wasn’t actually the best for the advancement of science.

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