Monday, June 17, 2013

NASA and the Cold War

I Proposed Title The tentative title I have selected for the research paper is "NASA, and the Cold War." II Research Problem After the end of World War II, a new war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed imminent. These two countries, which had fought as allies, were now waging war within a unique theater. This theater was space and the war would be defined as --The Cold War. Numerous book publications have been written detailing the development of NASA and the Cold War. Writers such as Asif A. Siddiq, Roger D. Lanius, David Scott and Alexi Leonov have examined the United States and Soviet Union's role in this "new ocean" called space. Using references from historical data and incorporating references from my own findings, I will examine the infancy of NASA and its ramifications on the Cold War. Several questions will be answered during the course of the investigation: What led to the development of NASA? What was the peak of the Cold War in space? What was the Soviet Union's posture during this period? What were NASA's objectives in counteracting Soviet advancements in space? My hypotheses will conclude that NASA's formulation was a direct result of ideology from the Cold War: An ideology that was exasperated by the actions from both countries. Additionally, I will illustrate what effects the Cold War had on our national space policy. III Background Following World War II, especially during the 1950's, it became apparent the United States and the Soviet Union were at odds on a variety of political and economic issues. In October, 1957, the Soviets placed the first satellite into orbit-Sputnik. Many feared if they had the capability to orbit a satellite, they also harnessed the knowhow to place a warhead over the U.S. Both countries possessed the technology for nuclear destruction, but the U.S. feared after Sputnik, the Soviet Union had tipped the scales in their favor. President Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 in response to Sputnik and space became an extension of the Cold War . The space race was on. IV Introduction After the World War Two was ended by the surrender of Japan in 1945 and the consequent victory of the Allies, many people hoped that the world would then enjoy some peace and quiet. The two world wars had been very catastrophic and led to the loss of millions of lives and the destruction of a lot of property. Although it did not come as a surprise when the United States of America and the Soviet Union fell out and instigated a cold war against each other, the adverse impacts of the two previous world wars were still fresh in both nations’ minds and none of them was ready to launch a military offensive against the other. On the contrary, both the United States of America and the Soviet Union engaged in a “Cold War” that was characterized by an extensive contest of ideologies as well as the allegiance of other nations in the international arena that were unaligned. The Cold War was a period typified by intense rivalry, contests and competition between the United States of America and the Soviet Union; in addition to this, after the World War Two the tensions and suspicions between the two nations increased. As a consequence of this suspicion, each nation engaged in an arms race to ensure that they had the most superior weapons in case the enemy launched an offensive. It was during this period that the phenomenon of space exploration had its advent as one of the most significant areas of contest between the US and Soviet Union: this would come to be known as the “Space Race”. By the eight decade of the 20th century (1980s) both nations had utilized trillions of dollars in the pursuit of superior nuclear weapons and the means through which these weapons would be utilized on the enemy if need arose. This paper will incline towards the discussion of the effects of the Cold war on science and technology with particular focus on space race which led to the formation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States of America. V Formation of NASA By the fourth decade of the 20th century (1940s), the American Department of Defense had engaged in investigative studies related to atmospheric sciences and rocketry with the intention of ensuring that the United States of America continued with its domination of the world’s technology. One of the most phenomenal breakthroughs in this pursuits occurred when the then American President –Dwight D. Eisenhower endorsed a plan by the Department of Defense to project a scientific satellite. This plan would be carried out from the 1st of July the year 1957 to the 31st of December 1958. As was to be expected, the Soviet Union wasted no time in announcing that it would also carry out its own satellite orbit. When the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in the universe as the nation’s IGY entry, the Sputnik 1, the American nation panicked. This act by the Soviet Union was perceived by the American public as a depiction of the technological gap that existed between the American nation and its rival the USSR . Regardless of the fact that Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 was a small satellite (the size of a beach ball), which sent insignificant transmissions back to the earth, its launch had greatly affected the thought patterns of people and political systems all over the world. The fact that the Russian engineers had made sure to polish the satellite and form it in such a way that it reflected light and was visible to the naked eye more than 175 miles in the sky had attained the desired outcome. People all over the world, particularly in the United States of America were filled with awe, fear and panic. The fact that there was an “enemy Satellite” visible in the American skies and that no one knew what its capacities were increased the levels of panic in America. As a consequence of the panic by the American public, America increased the budget for technical and scientific projects as well as aerospace programs. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, commonly referred to as NASA, was established on the 1st of October the year 1958. On their creation of NASA the then American President and the American Congress claimed that it was necessary to come up with “An Act to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes”. This act was mostly a result of the Sputnik 1 crisis caused by the Soviet Union on the 4th of October 1957 . NASA was then chartered to take up the management and supervision of space and air research. In to respond to the Sputnik 1 Crisis in a timely and effective way, NASA began operations immediately after its formation on the 1st of October 1958. NASA was integrated into the previously established National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. NASA began its operations with a human resource of an estimated 8,000 people and a yearly budget of $ 100 million. There were three chief research laboratories affiliated to NASA; these were the Lewis, Flight Propulsion Laboratory, the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory and the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory. Within a short time the agency of NASA had incorporated a number of other institutes for instance the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (Huntsville, Alabama). Here Wernher von Braun and his team exerted all their efforts towards the manufacture of large rockets. Other organizations that were incorporated into the NASA agency include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory overseen by the California Institute of Technology for the Army and the Naval Research Laboratory located in Maryland . Mercury Project was the first NASA program which attained its first success on the 5th of May the year 1961 when the first American Astronaut on space, Alan Shepard, was launched into orbit for an estimated 15 minutes. Earlier on, President Kennedy had been quoted as stating that "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth" . VI Soviet Union during the Space Race When the space race first began it had very little to do with space and a lot to do with potential armed confrontation between the rivaling nations specifically the Soviet Union and the United States of America. Initially the space race was inclined towards the pursuit of rocket technologies. From the advent of the space race it was very clear that there were political leaders in the Soviet Union that were inclined towards the space travel phenomenon. Khrushchev, who was by then heading the Soviet Union, and Korolev- Soviet Space Agency’s founder- were particularly interested in ensuring that the Russians defeated the US in the space race. Although the motivations by Khrushchev were political in nature, Korolev really wanted to get into space for purposes of exploration. The Soviet Union had all the ingredients that they need for a successful space race: The political backing, an enthusiastic leader and the support of the general Russian public. During this period, a number of rocket scientists in Germany were forced to abandon their projects on space travel and channel their energies towards the manufacture of ballistic missiles; their efforts culminated in the manufacture of the V-2 ballistic missile on September 1944 . Owing to the fact that it had developed the V-2 ballistic missile the nation of Germany had demonstrated to the entire world that it had genius rocket scientists. The US and other nations in Europe Asia had not achieved much success in their endeavors to develop and manufacture rockets. During this time the United States of America and the Soviet Union were the nations in the world that were not only very interested in exploring space but also had the means to do so. After the war, Wernher von Braun, the rains behind the German rocket team was still very interested in pursuing his space travel researches and he chose to be with the United States rather than the Soviet Union. Now that von Braun was with America it seemed obvious to the rest of the world that the US would simply pick up from where the nation of Germany had left and dominate the field of technology, rocket science and the V-2 equipment. This, however, was not the case. As von Barun continuously expressed his fears that the Russians would explore space before America due to lack of support and funding from the Trumann administration, the soviet engineers and scientists were spending sleepless nights in an effort to win the space race. With the launch of the Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2 the Russians proved to the world, and importantly to America that they were also technologically endowed. The greatest achievement by the Soviet Union is the fact that unlike the Americans that were aided by the top scientists from Germany who had manufactured the first ballistic missiles, the Russians made use of their own inventions, expertise, technology and ideas to develop their rockets from scratch. In addition to launching the satellite into orbit, the Soviet Union was also the first nation in the world to send a living organism into space. This is because aboard the Sputnik 2 satellite was a dog named Laika. Although the dog died after approximately a week in space, the Soviet Space Program was able to gather important information from their satellite. As the American nation launched the Explorer 1 into orbit, the Soviet Union was launching Sputnik 3. This satellite was the universe’s first space giant weighing an estimated 1,327 kilograms and 12 feet high. It had a diameter of 1.73 meters. Sputnik 3 was launched into orbit on the 15th of May the year 1958. It has often time been argued that the failure by the Soviet Union to launch a cosmonaut on the moon was a result of lack of coordination. In their effort to respond to the Apollo success by the United States of America the Russians began and followed up more than six lunar projects concurrently. In addition to the fact that these projects were pursued without any sense of direction, they also lacked clear frameworks of leadership and would fade away as quickly as they had been initiated. VII Peak of the Cold War in Space The peak of the Cold war in space was when the Russians launched the Sputnik 1 into space and then Sputnik 2 barely a month later. Prior to these launches by the Soviet Union the United States of America had not really seriously engaged in the space race; this is due to the fact that rather than do it before Russia, the American government officials and scientists had been more concerned with coming up with something significant and launching something useful into the orbit. Initially the Soviet Union was perceived as being ahead of the United States of America in the space race. Firstly, as already indicated, the Soviet Union was the first nation to launch a satellite into space; this was the Sputnik 1. Secondly, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union became the first person to be in space. American expert, not very enthusiastic to accept defeat, have argued that Alan Shepard from the US could have easily been on space before the Russian on the 12th of April 1961 . The diagram below illustrates the achievement of each nation in the space race. Type of Achievement First Country First Country 1. First to send a satellite into space USSR USSR 2. First to send a living animal into space USSR USSR 3. First to send a satellite to obtain scientific information USSR USSR 4. First to place a satellite in solar orbit USSR USSR 5. First to send a satellite to the moon and back U SSR USSR 6. First to send a man into space USSR USSR 7. First to send a woman into space USSR USSR 8. First to perform a spacewalk USSR USSR 9. First to have a running space station USSR USSR 10. First commercial satellite US US 11. First to send a man to the moon US US 12. First to land a man on the moon US The successful launches of Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2 by the Soviet Union were a very big blow to the pride of the American nation. As a consequence the United States of America worked harder than before to demonstrate its satellite prowess and on December of the year 1957 the US attempted to launch the Vanguard TV3. The satellite launch added to the embarrassment of the United States of America when the satellite exploded barely 4 feet off the pad; this botched satellite launch was such a humiliation to the US that it was commonly referred to as “Flopnik” and “Kaputnik”. The American scientists would not give up and on the 31st of January the year 1958 the Jupiter C or Juno 1 was able to transport the Explorer 1 satellite into space. Nevertheless, by this time the pride of America as regards the space race in the Cold War had already been bruised badly by the Russians. Nevertheless, the Satellite launches and the landing of the first man in space by the Russians served as motivating factors for the United States of America to exert itself harder in the space race. VIII Ramifications of the Space Race The space race between the Soviet Union and the United States of America affected the Cold war in a number of ways. The space race between these two nations was simply a competition between two nations that wanted to outshine each other in terms of technology. The first obvious ramification is the fact that it heightened the paranoia regarding the Cold war in the United States of America. The American public was persuaded beyond doubt that is the Russian nation was able to launch satellites into the orbit, than they also had the capacity to launch military offensives against the United States of America is they so wished. In addition to this, both the Americans and people from other parts of the world were convinced that the Soviet Union was the most dominant and superior nation in the world in regard to technological capacities and achievements. The space race led to the generation of rockets that were utilized in the space race. The rockets were fashioned as intercontinental missiles which had atomic warheads. This was a very significant development, particularly to the United States of America which did not have as many armed troops as the Soviet Union. While the American nation was developing atomic missiles so as to defend the nation from any military offensive by the Russians, the Soviet Union were developing their just to keep up in the race. Another important ramification that the space race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union had is the fact that it increased the expenditure and cost of the war for both nations. The most affected, however, was the Soviet Union which would later go bankrupt. Both the American nation and the Russians were investing a lot of money in space related and aeronautic activities with the intention of proving to the world that they were superior to their rival. The arms race also had a number of effects on NASA. In spite of the fact that the arms race between the US and Soviet Union being fuelled by political forces it motivated the American government to increase the finding given to NASA as well as other projects aimed at technological development. As a consequence of the increased support and finances from the government NASA was able to not only launch satellites and space stations but also men into orbit. The most phenomenal achievement by NASA occurred when the agency sent its people to the moon. The space race would later on end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the inability of the Russians to send their own people to the moon. IX NASA's Objectives In Counteracting Soviet Advancements When NASA was initially formed in the year 1958 there were eight main objectives that it was expected to fulfill. The first objective was to ensure that human knowledge was expanded to include know how and expertise regarding issues of space and the atmosphere. Secondly, NASA was to enhance the American aeronautical and space instruments in terms of their speed, performance, safety, efficiency and usefulness. The third objective of NASA was to undertake and ensure the successful manufacture of aeronautic and space vehicles capable of transporting living beings, instruments and supplies in space. Another major responsibility that the agency of NASA was tasked with upon its formation was to ensure that it formulated and oversaw long term investigative studies aimed at demonstrating the benefits, opportunities and challenges that characterized space and aeronautical activities. As a consequence of the great competition and rivalry from the Soviet Union, NASA was also vested with the responsibility of ensuring that the United States of America remained the dominant global leader in technology as well as space and aeronautical science and their peaceful applications. NASA also had to communicate and make available any discoveries of military value or significance to the American national defenses. The seventh objective of the NASA agency upon formation during the Cold war was to ensure that the United States of America cooperated with other nations in any work affiliated to or as described by the Act which led to the formation of NASA. Finally NASA had the duty of ensuring that the engineering and scientific resources provided by the government as well as any discoveries made by the agency would be used efficiently. NASA counteracted the advancements of the Soviet Union by conducting a number of significant programs in the first two decades after its formations. The first program was the mercury single astronaut project that was which inclined towards human flight initiatives. This program (1961-1963) was formulated with the intention of ascertaining whether or not humans could survive in space. Project Gemini was launched with flights during 1965-1966 and Project Apollo (1968-1977). In addition to this a number of robotic missions to the moon for instance the Surveyor, Lunar Orbiter and Ranger as well as missions to planet Venus and Mars were also established. The Space Shuttle was also developed; this was a spacecraft through which astronauts could travel to and from the moon. In addition to this NASA undertook the development of a Skylab. This was an orbital workshop established specifically for astronauts. Application satellites were also established by NASA in the first two decades after its formation for instance Echo 1, Telstar and TIROS; these were specifically for purposes of communication and weather examinations. A phenomenal event affecting NASA occurred on the 28th of January the year 1986 when the Shuttle program in America came to an unexpected stop as a consequence of the challenger disaster. This prompted a restructuring of NASA and the appointment of new leaders. It was only 48 months later, on the 29th of September the year 1988 that the Return to Flight Mission was resumed. X Conclusion The advent of space exploration is often time described as the most phenomenal exploration periods since the existence of human beings. This is in spite of the fact that the era of space exploration was typified by great costs and lessons to be learnt by all those that were involved. The space race commenced after the defeat of the Axis powers by the Allied forces in the World war Two. The Space Race was an event that took place in a time when the international arena was characterized by an increased rate of turmoil, anxiety and great mistrust. The United States of America and the Soviet Union had, for a very long time in history, been rivals and adversaries. All through the two nations harbored a great mistrust and suspicion for each other; as a consequence both the US and the Soviet Union sought ways in which their could gain an upper hand. After the end of the WW2 the US and the Soviet Union became the first two nations to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons. The whole was filled with great fear and apprehension as it was feared that the two nations would make use of the nearly acquired weapons of mass destruction to finish off each other. It is for this reason that the arms race was perceived as having a number of many direct and indirect ramifications. The space race between the American and Russian nation continued for a great number of years. The Cold War was finally concluded in the year 1991 and from the year 1998 the United States of America, Russia and other dominant players in the international arena have engaged in the collaborative International Space Station Project. 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