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Sputnik's Effects Essay

1937 words - 8 pages

The Soviet’s were responsible for putting man on the moon, rovers on Mars, and launching the Hubble Space Telescope. Indeed, it was the United States’ foes that drove the U.S. to accomplish perhaps the greatest feats of the twentieth century. Following the defeat of Germany and Japan in World War II, tensions between former allies, the United States and the Soviet Union, began to grow. In the following decades, the two superpowers would duke it out in competitions and tremendous shows of nationalism. They formed unmatchable rivalries in politics, economics, sciences, and sports. These rivalries would become clear when two countries competed in the space race, a competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union concerning achievements in the field of space exploration. The Soviet’s took the early lead as they put the first satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. The launch of Sputnik 1 established a sense of fear into the American Public, resulting in the creation of NASA in the late 1950’s which opened the door for space exploration today and for future generations.
After World War II, the Cold War created tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States leading to extreme national pride and competition, culminating in the space race which began with the launch of Sputnik 1. In World War II many new weapons were created to kill more people with more efficiency. The most notable of these was the atomic bomb. As American troops closed in on Japan at the end of the war, they realized that taking the small island nation would be nearly impossible. The Japanese soldiers had shown their willingness to die for their country when kamikaze pilots flew into American ships. As a result, President Truman approved the use of the two nuclear bombs to subdue Japan. Within a three day period, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely decimated. Following this event, other countries began to develop nuclear weapons and the atomic age was introduced ("The Race To Build A Bomb" 1). Subsequently, “...the Soviets seized power over much of Eastern Europe with the might of its Red Army and supported communist and Soviet-friendly regimes throughout the region” (“Cold War” 1). The Cold War had begun. The Soviet’s detonated their first atomic bomb in 1949, making Americans extremely suspicious of the Soviet’s intents. Treaties were signed as the two countries increased military spending, anticipating a war. The U.S. signed an agreement called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with 11 other countries while the Soviets drafted it’s counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, six years later. Anxiety only grew as the Soviet’s communists ideas spread from eastern Europe to Asia. Hostilities died down in the early 1950’s due mainly in part to the death of communist dictator Joseph Stalin. Stalin “conducted major purges of CPSU, government, and Red Army leadership and held numerous secret trials and executions to eliminate opposition to his...

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