The Birth Of The Space Race

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Sylvia Engdahl, in her book series Americans at War, relayed that during the landing of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface, the television broadcast of the event was “beamed to an estimated 600 million people in thirty-three countries on six continents” (182). Considering that this vast group of people, largely comprised of Americans, was tuned into this monumental event proves that the space race was captivating for its audience and the subject of utmost public attention. For Americans, the space race was a basis from which new technological developments would soon proliferate, and it served as an arena for cold war competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Consequently, when it came to innovative advancements in the US’ progress …show more content…

Americans soon became worried, as it was close to the beginning of what would become to be known as the Cold War, of the fact that if the Soviet Union was in possession of missiles as powerful as the one used to launch the Sputnik mission (Balogh 14). As many feared, what was stopping them from using a similar missile on the United States in the event of political adversity? Likewise, during the beginning of the space race, there was a general lack of understanding behind the science of space. Many were enthusiastic for the new adventure, but even more knew nothing about space except what they had learned in science fiction novels and films (Engdahl 180). A combination of this fear of the Soviet Union’s missile capacity and a general dubiety regarding space exploration led to diverse opinions regarding America’s involvement in the space …show more content…

Project Mercury claimed several suborbital flights before John Glenn's flight into orbit on February, 20, 1962 (Engdahl 181). Project Mercury, the name given to the United States program aimed at sending a man into space, continued its aerospace research by developing a new capsule, one that was more compact and far lighter than the Soviet Union’s Vostok. The capsule was tested with chimpanzees and completed its final test flight in March 1961. Flying in this new cone-shaped craft, Astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space on May 5, 1961 (“The Space”). The success of this monumental flight was the first of multiple United States space accomplishments to

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