Space Race- Culbertson & Anders

The Space Race

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          The Space Race was a competition to the moon, between the United States and Soviet Union.  Each nation wanted to have better science, math, and technology to help them get there.  It was prompted in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.  It was the first man-made satellite sent into orbit and represented a huge victory for the Soviets over the US in the space race.  The US did not want to fall behind, so they improved their space program.  By 1959, Project Mercury was underway.  The goal of this program was to send a man into orbit around the Earth and to investigate how people function in space.  In 1961, the Soviets successfully sent the first man into orbit around the Earth.  Later that year, Alan Shepard was sent into space on the first Mercury flight.  He was in space for 15 minutes, making him the first American in space.  In 1962 on the third Mercury mission, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.  These were all big milestones in the race to the moon.  JFK made a goal before Congress to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, the 1960s.  In 1969, that goal was accomplished.  On the Apollo 11 mission was Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, followed shortly after by Aldrin on July 20, 1969.  The placing of the American flag on the moon represented the American’s victory over the Soviets in the race to the moon.


          The common goal of US people to reach the moon before the Soviets united the nation.  Many people worked tirelessly to get Apollo 11 to the moon.  It brought the nation together under a common goal and a common enemy, as well as bringing out national pride.  The competition to reach the moon also showed the rest of the world of the power of the US and Soviet Union.  The technology developed to get people to the moon had other uses, as well.  The rocket technology could be used to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.  They could be launched and hit a target on the other side of the world.  This incited fear into people in both the Soviet Union and the US that each nation could mount an attack using nuclear missiles from long distance.  It spurred even more technology to defend against such attacks.


          Since the first launch of Apollo 11, NASA has sent more missions to the moon.  In 1998, the International Space Station was launched as a place to conduct research and as a staging base for future lunar missions.  In the future, NASA is looking to explore places such as Mars and beyond. New technological advancements such as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will be used in the future for missions beyond Low Earth Orbit. They have been known as “Apollo on steroids” by NASA. Scientists are also looking to explore the moon’s south pole due to its hydrogen and water ice content. Commercial space exploration is looking more and more like a possibility. Virgin Galactic is a new commercial program which sends civilians to space for the fee of $250,000.00.  Space travel is becoming a more available to people, even outside of government programs.