Roots of the Space Race

Essay by ImakuraHigh School, 11th gradeA-, March 2010

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Eugene Kim




Roots of the Space Race

World War II had just ended with a victory over the Japanese forces in the Pacific, and with it had been demonstrated the awesome destructive capabilities of the atomic bomb for the very first time. Awed by this show of power, most knew that the future of modern warfare would be determined by those who held nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, planes were the only available method at that time that could carry nuclear weapons far enough to be effective. The need for a more efficient delivery system was paramount to national security, and it so happened that the Germans had devised the perfect method of delivery: the rocket. Both nations scrambled to retrieve the precious information, locked within the minds of the German researchers in order to secure themselves behind the infallible armor of nuclear weaponry.

The Space Race emerged from this earlier "race", to become an international competition between the world's two leading superpowers of that era, the United States and the Soviet Union, demonstrating the power of human ingenuity and harkening the advent of a new era for mankind which brought with it unprecedented advancements in the fields of science and technology. Sputnik was launched by the Soviets on October 4 1957, and in hindsight many believed the Space Race had officially begun, but the true "race" can be traced to a different time. The true start and causes for the race's rapid intensification can be traced to the United States and Soviet Union's obsession of forming a tighter sense of nuclear security by claiming and denying each other the remnants of the German rocket program, and influencing the nationalism of their respective citizens.

Even after the end of World War II, the...