Although the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was full of conflict, some events had very positive impacts on not only the two countries, but the rest of the world and the human race.
The Space Race between the two countries was one of the fortunate events, as it helped humanity gain knowledge about outer space and achieve things that were looked at as wild imaginations before the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
How the Space Race started
Right after the Cold War started, both the United States and Soviet Union realized that it was not enough to be the most advanced in the field of arms and nuclear weapons. They needed to invest in researching rocket science in order to help improve and bolster their military program. Since the previous superpower before the end of World War II was Germany, the two new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, started to bring in German rocket scientists to work on rocket development projects.
Off to a fast start
In 1955, the Space Race between the two rivals officially took off when the United States announced its project to launch a satellite into space. The Soviet Union immediately considered this to be a challenge and formed a committee with one goal: beating the U.S. and putting a satellite into orbit first.
As it turns out, the Soviet Union launched the first successful satellite out into orbit in this superficial race. The Soviet satellite named Sputnik was in orbit on October 4th, 1957. Four months later, the first American satellite, Explorer I, was successfully launched.
Humans in Orbit?!
The next leg of the Space Race came when the Soviets again took the lead in sending the first human ever into space. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth in the Russian spacecraft called Vostok I. About a month later, American astronaut Alan Shepherd was launched into space in the craft Freedom I, which did not orbit the Earth like his Soviet rival. It was not until a year later when an American astronaut successfully orbited the Earth. In the year 1962, astronaut John Glenn’s craft, Friendship 7, was the first to orbit our planet.
America behind and trying to gain ground
After years of coming in second place in the Soviet versus American Space Race, President Kennedy told Congress how important it was for America and the western world to have an American as the first human to land on the Moon. As a result, a program called “Apollo Moon” was launched.
Along with the Apollo Moon program, the United States launched the Gemini Program, which was responsible for developing a new technology for the Apollo Program to be able to change and control the orbit of a spacecraft. Multiple studies were conducted to determine the impact the trip to the moon would have on the human body. They did this so that American astronauts were able to go for a spacewalk once they landed on the moon.
In 1969, after years of testing and training, American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin were launched in the spacecraft Apollo 11 from Earth to the Moon. Four days later, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong took a step out of the spacecraft and became the first man ever to walk on the Moon. With the American flag in his hands, he declared the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The happy ending of the Space Race
In achieving this huge step of putting a man on the moon, the United States had taken the lead against the Soviets in the Space Race. As tensions between the two countries eased, they actually decided to work together and collaborate on the Apollo-Soyez project.
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