What was the Space Race
Space Race was the race between the United States of America and USSR for supremacy in space exploration. It lasted from 1957 to 1975 and led to many rapid developments in the field of space exploration. It is to be noted here that though the differences between the two countries became very evident with the launch of first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by USSR on October 4 1957; the actual quench for supremacy had begun immediately after the fall of Germany. The Space Race can be said to be one of the effects of the Cold War that went on between the two countries following the Second World War. Clear indications were given to the outside world about the rivalry and the race for supremacy between the two most powerful countries in the world when their announcements in this regard in 1955, came within a span of 4 days.
After the fall of Germany in World War 2, United States of America, USSR and Britain tried to establish control over the advancements that Germans had achieved in the field of space technology. Americans were the one who achieved considerable success in this regard with ‘Operation Paperclip’, in which they succeeded in recruiting some of the best researchers from Germany and also acquired a large number of V2 rockets from Germany. Though the President of Untied States of America planned to launch satellite in 1955, the first attempt of USA in this regard failed miserably when ‘Project Vanguard’ at Cape Carnival failed. It was in the year 1958 that the first artificial satellite of United States of America, Explorer 1 was put into space. This satellite detected the Alien Radiation Belt and helped in significant progress in space research.
Following the success of the first artificial satellite, the next task was to send human beings into space and this dream became reality when Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth on Vostok 1 on 12 April 1961. However, the spacecraft was set on automatic mode and Gagarin made a landing with the parachute against the International norms for aeronautical records. As a response to this, a year later USA sent John Glenn on Mercury–Atlas 6 to orbit the earth on 20th February 1962. However, USA succeeded in sending first Humans on the moon on July 20, 1969 onboard Apollo 11.
In the process of supremacy for space exploration, there were several casualties and setbacks for both countries. Worth mentioning here would be the ‘Nedelian catastrophe’ during their testing of R-16 rocket that resulted in the death of 150 top military officials of USSR. The space race saw an end in 1975, when the Apollo Soyuz test project jointly organized by USSR and USA was launched on 15 July 1975.