The date was July 31, 1956. The United States of America had just announced plans to launch an artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit. Two days later, the communist collective known as the USSR did the same . Although the USA had announced their goal first, the Soviets beat them to it, launching Sputnik in late 1957, striking a blow to American confidence . The next twelve years would be a whirlwind of technological innovation as both sides raced to exert control over the vast advantages that space granted, culminating with the achievement of a man walking on the moon in 1969. The opposing political systems and beliefs of these two nations, as well as their actions of dominance soon after the end of World War II, had pitted them against each other. Roughly a decade after the start of these international tensions, both sides believed they had a chance to one-up the other in a display of authority taking place in the unknown frontier of outer space. However, it is important to realize that the human systems present during this “Space Race” played a vital role in shaping both its course and the implementation of its technology on both fronts, but especially in the United States. The purpose of this essay is to present how the political, social, and economic systems existing in America guided the progress and engineering of the Space Race.
The early advances of the USSR caused a multitude of upheavals to American politics. Many high ranking military officials were forced to resign, and the launching of the Sputnik satellite was pivotal in the election of John F. Kennedy, a man who made the space race a national priority . This upheaval, in turn, was the cause of a huge shift in the treatm...
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... existing within society. The political spectrum allowed for a movement towards the embracement of the technology needed for space travel, and produced a governmental organization to oversee engineering solutions. The public platform helped by focusing efforts on the perfection of this technology, as well as promoting a basis for the exploration of public opinion surrounding the progress of this cosmic voyage. In addition, growth in economic sectors surrounding the space industry, including computer production, were due to the respective economic system present at the time. All three of these human systems had a visible impact on the trajectory of the space race, whether for better or worse. Without the influence of these social constructs, the chapter of our history books titled “The Space Race” would look completely different, and so would our nation.
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