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Essay On The Space Race

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After World War II, the capitalist U.S. and the communist U.S.S.R. developed a long period of tension and rivalry, commonly referred to as “The Cold War.” In our history class we learned that this rivalry led to a competition in space between the two superpowers to prove which one had the best economic system, military, science, and technology. This competition became known as “The Space Race.”

It all started on October 4, 1957, when the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 1 into space. The Sputnik (“traveler” in Russian) was the first satellite made by mankind. It consisted in a small beeping metal ball, with a diameter of less than two feet and a weight of less than 200 pounds. The ball was small, but it started a big space race between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. This race lasted for about twenty years and, without a doubt, it completely changed the world.
Sputnik 1 wasn’t the first man-made technological creation in space. Toward the end of World War II, the Germans had used the V-2 rocket as a desperate attempt against the Allied powers. The V-2 was a ballistic missile with a supersonic speed and, when the war ended, the United States and Soviet Union took the scientists that created it to use them for their own developments. By August 1957, the U.S.S.R. had effectively tested the R-7 Semyorka, the first ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile). The R-7 was used two months later to launch the Sputnik 1 in space.
At this point the Soviet Union was ahead in the space race. Not happy with that, President Eisenhower demanded that the Navy launch an American satellite as soon as possible. On December 6, 1957, the U.S. attempted to launch the Vanguard TV3. Unfortunately, two seconds after liftoff, the rocket fell back and exploded. Th...

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...nd exchanged gifts.
The space race had a great historical significance for the U.S. and the whole world. On the surface, it seemed as a battle of science and technology. In reality, it was actually a political battle between the world’s two major superpowers and their economic systems, an ideological battle between communism and capitalism. So, was the space race a waste of time? Could all those millions of dollars have been better invested in something else? Maybe, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the space race stimulated research in many fields, and this research brought to many life changing developments. LED therapy to treat cancer, freeze-dried food, and the memory foam used in mattresses all resulted from the technologies developed by NASA for space. And let’s not forget to thank the space program for the much needed satellites for our GPS and cell phones!
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