The Space Race: Did America Really Win?

By | November 29, 2016

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Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space, during preparations for here flight on Vostok 6, USSR, June 16, 1963. (Photo by: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Some people say competition brings out the best between people, but can it be also said for countries? Right after the madness of World War II the United States and the Soviet Union went straight into the Cold War. The Cold War was many things, but probably the most defining aspect was the way the two giants duked it out by trying to outperform the other. In one specific field, this competitive spirit was manifested in the “Space Race.”

This competition formally started after the Soviet Union responded to the United States when they made an announcement that they planned to launch artificial satellites sometime soon, but the space race was taken from zero to sixty after the Soviets launched the satellite, Sputnik 1, a few years latter in October of 1957.

The Spark That Started It All: Sputnik 1

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The Soviets had officially made the first move in this funky dance. The United states struggled to keep the step, and in just four months they were able to successfully launch Explorer 1. The next ten years quickly transformed into a high energy back and forth bout, the Soviets would lead for a year, then the USA, alternating and always pushing the realm of possibility all along the way.