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The Space Race Essay

2756 words - 11 pages

In the aftermath of the second Great War, Europe stood in destitution. Towns, cities, roads, homes, all were devastated in the conflict leaving most of the once great and powerful European powers unable to retain their previous power. This left but two superpowers, the polar opposites in every circumstance. Their struggle for supreme power was a conflict bordering on mutual devastation, though, was not fought with armies, navies, or air forces but through a race to the final frontier: Space. Since the United States had been able to harness the power of nuclear energy to create a weapon so deadly destructive that an unequal balance of power could only be equalized after the Russians were able to create a similar weapon. The advent of nuclear weapons left the world in a constant sense of impending doom. But in order to fight, the two instead retreated to a competition of one-upmanship in national prestige with one goal in mind: reaching space. The space race became so intertwined in national politics that in a sense in became the most reasonable means of fighting. Therefore, I submit, that the space race was the most meaningful scientific and prestigious endeavor humankind had undertook culminating into one of the most impressive and striking moments of history, not just for the United States but the world, on April 11, 1961.
As history has proved time and time again, war provides the world with endless amounts of new inventions and technology. During World War II, such inventions as radar and rocketry came into existence. At the forefront of the emerging field of rocketry was a young and jovial German of aristocratic background by the name of Wernher von Braun. During the war, he and other prominent German rocket scientists were put to work to create a rocket capable of bombing enemy targets. The rocket in question was later to be known as the V-2, used specifically during the bombardment of England. As the fall of the Third Reich was eminent, von Braun and the other scientists were sent into the Bavarian Alps to a location code-named, Alpine Redoubt. At the new underground facility the scientists were ordered to produce more rockets to impede the advance of the Allies. By 1945, the allies were pushing on to the center of Nazi Germany, Berlin. Their objective was to take the city but as a secondary mission to collect German scientists. According to von Braun and his colleagues, who knew capture was only short time away, wanted to be collected by the Americans, as summed up by von Braun, “We despise the French, we are mortally afraid of the Soviets, we don’t believe the British can afford us, so that leaves the Americans” (Moser & Spangenburg, 69). On April 26, 1945 their wish came true the Americans were the first to find them. The next task for the Americans was to secure the vital members of von Braun’s team, which came to known as Operation Overcast, later to Paperclip. This became the beginning developments of American rocketry.
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