This mission was known as Operation Overflight. Operation Overflight was approved mainly so that it would be known what to bomb in case there was ever a nuclear war. It intended to improve America's knowledge of the Soviet military installations. Other minor goals of these missions were to cartograph the land, to conduct weather research, and atomic sampling.
U-2's were amazing aircrafts. They were first flown in 1955 after being completed in only 8 months! Created to fly at an altitude that would escape the range of any rockets, interceptors or radars, they were the first of their kind in the world. Being able to fly above 90% of the earth's atmosphere (22,900 feet), these U-2's were capable of flying higher than any aircraft known. They had a wingspan of 24.4 meters and were powered by the Pratt & Whitney turbojet engine.
With all the rush of creating the U-2, there were still many imperfections.
The plane was very fragile because durability wasn't taken into consideration while it was being made. Since it was able to fly so high, there were very few threats to consider. Each of the planes was hand-made and had their own instabilities. Because of this, flying was kept to a minimal.
Missions such as these were very risky especially flown so close in time to the Summit Conference. If a U-2 crashed on Soviet Territory, and a live pilot and/or equipment were obtained, the United States would be tried with invasion and espionage. Eisenhower was hesitant to approve the start of the missions however, he was assured by the CIA and the Joint Chief of Staff that if something was to go wrong during one of the missions, the possibility of anyone finding intact equipment would be next to nothing. He was advised that...