News / Science & Technology

After 45 Years: Space Race a Thing of the Past

45 Years Later: Space Race is a Thing of the Pasti
X
George Putic
July 09, 2014 5:39 PM
Forty-five years ago, two U.S. astronauts became the first humans to step on the moon. This remarkable achievement was the culmination of a fierce competition in space technology between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. VOA’s George Putic looks back at the 'Space Race' that gradually evolved into today’s cooperation.

VIDEO: The U.S. moon landing was the culmination of a fierce competition in space technology between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. VOA’s George Putic looks back at the 'Space Race' that gradually evolved into today’s astronautical cooperation.

George Putic

Forty-five years ago, two U.S. astronauts became the first humans to step on the moon, the remarkable culmination of a fierce competition in space technology between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

Beginning in the U.S.-Soviet Cold War of the 1950s, the space race was as much about politics as science, says former Russian cosmonaut and deputy director of the Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts, Alexander Laveykin.

“There was a big competition between us and America: who will launch the first space satellite? It turned out, we were the first ones," said Laveykin.

That succesful launch of man-made satellite, Sputnik 1 — a 58 centimeter metal ball with four antennae that circled the globe and transmitted a simple signal — was a bitter pill for the American public to swallow.

Less than five months later, in January 1958, the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, which discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

But the Soviets pulled ahead again in April 1961, when the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took a single swing around the planet, and succesfully returned to a hero’s welcome.

One month later, the first American astronaut Alan Shepherd reached suborbital altitude and parachuted back to earth.

“On the periscope, what a beautiful view,"  said Shepherd from far above the earth. "Cloud cover over Florida, three to four tenths up the eastern coast, obscures up through Hatteras.... I'm getting ready for impact."

Growing public and political pressure prompted then-President John Kennedy to set America's sights higher: to land on the moon, says National Air and Space Museum curator Kathleen Lewis.

“On the United States side, I think there is a bit of hubris that we can do anything better," said Lewis.

Before the decade was over, on July 20, 1969, American Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon.

In the years that followed, the space race slowed and moved toward cooperation when in 1975 Washington and Moscow conducted the first manned rendezvous in space.

In time, the rivalry would fizzle, due to the task of building the International Space Station, the demise of Communism, and NASA’s decision to retire its shuttle fleet.

According to Kathleen Lewis of National Air and Space Museum, the current earth-bound, geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and Russia does not seem to adversely impact bilateral cooperation in space.

“You don't want to be arguing politics when you're up in a tin can 200-and-some miles [325 km] above Earth," she said. "You have nowhere to go, so you've got to focus on things that you can agree on and avoid the things that you might have disagreements on."

At the moment, the two space agencies do not have plans for greater cooperation, but their competitive space race is definitely a thing of the past.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid