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The Space Race

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HIST101-1304B-10 Modern American History 1950 to the 21st Century

The Space Race

The Space Race began on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched a satellite into space named Sputnik. This satellite began its journey attached to a Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Sputnik was the first piece of man made equipment ever sent into orbit around the Earth. The launch of Sputnik showed the United States that they were behind the power curve when it came to exploring space. The other thing that the Sputnik launched showed the United States was the power and range of the Soviet’s R-7 ICBM. It seemed that the Soviet Union was capable of delivering nuclear warheads to U.S. soil. This encouraged the U.S. military to take a particularly hard look into the weapon advancements that the Soviets were making. By 1958 the United States launched its own satellite into space, known as Explorer I. It was designed by the U.S. Army and over watched by a rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun. In 1958 President Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or more commonly known as NASA. In addition to signing the public order which created NASA, President Eisenhower also signed two more orders that would ensure the United States would not fall behind in gathering intelligence via space again. The first was used by the U.S. Air Force, which focused on using space for military operations. The second named Corona was a collaboration with the CIA, U.S. Air Force, and an organization which remained classified until 1990, the National Reconnaissance Office, and was used to gather intelligence of the Soviet Union by orbiting satellites. The following year the Space Race gained extraordinary speed both by the U.S. and the Soviets. The Soviets would launch a space probe named Luna 2 onto the moon. This was a first by any country. Then in April...

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