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Reinforcing Fears: Space Race And Sci Fi In The Cold War

2432 words - 10 pages

Throughout history, science and technology has been relied on to advance humanity. In the Cold War period, this was no different. In fact, the Cold War period was characterized as much by scientific and technological innovation as it was the clash of East and West. From missiles to the space race, science and technology reassured both superiority and mutual destruction throughout the era. The space race, in particular, was a longstanding battle for domination between American and Soviet minds. No longer was space travel confined to science fiction, but a reality that needed to be explored in order to maintain the grasp on victory in the Cold War. This paper will argue that although the domination for space acted as a metaphor for Cold War superiority, ultimately space colonization was the catalyst to American exploration in science fiction and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) propaganda. As a result, when the Americans landed their astronauts first on the moon, it was a victory for America’s policy, imagination, and people. First, an exploration of the history and politics of space travel in the United States and Soviet Union will be discussed. From there, both political cartoons and the development of science fiction will be developed alongside the events that lead up to Sputnik’s launch and Apollo 11’s moonwalk in order to draw the parallel that interest in space fuelled science fiction phenomena. Although this paper focuses on the events leading up to Apollo 11, a discussion of the declining role of science fiction and interest in space as a means to win the Cold War will be put into focus. Lastly, the climatic events of the 1950s and 1960s space age will be compared and contrasted with contemporary events in order to determine the size and scope of both science fiction and the space race in the early Cold War period.
Science has been in alliance with the government since the Founding Fathers of the United States. For example, Benjamin Franklin was both an inventor and a scientist, whereas Thomas Jefferson and John Adams advocated for a university (Memoir 55). This initial interest in science allowed several scientific institutions to be established, such as the Smithsonian Institute, which was created after Adams vowed to create “lighthouses of the sky” (Memoir 56). Beyond the initial presidencies, the interest in science weaned until the Great Depression, where Franklin Roosevelt appointed a Science Advisory Board in 1933 (57). Roosevelt continued his commitment to science, also establishing the Office of Scientific Research and Development and laid the framework for the National Science Foundation, which Truman would eventually create in 1950 (58). Truman also had other notable accomplishments in bridging the gap between science and government, through the Office of Naval Research and the Atomic Energy Commission in 1946 (59). As the Second World War came to an end, the United States was at its pinnacle of scientific research. The...

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