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HIS344Y1 Lecture Notes - Aurora, Check Point, Apollo 1

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Ebba Kurt

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HIS344 – Conflict and Cooperation in the International System Since 1945
Lecture 9 – Scientific Competition
second wave of decolonization – Algeria and Congo
competition between Soviet Union and US; first appearance by USSR in Africa
however, undermined USSR in the long-term
nothing symbolized the East-West relations more than the science race – space race
became most important face of the competition – gain advantage in political and
ideological term
success with science space race equated success in political terms – immediately
implied that one or the other system was better
Soviet scientific community existed in a vacuum from the rest of the world – for the first time
scientists from both states attended conference, cooperation
July 1955 – International Astronomical Conference
US wanted a space program, have satellites orbiting around the world but for peaceful
means – the federation was set up to explore space as well as earth
when the federation met for the first time both announced their plans – beginning of space
1957-8 – international geophysical year
wanted to research phenomenon like aurora borealis, gravity, solar flares
score more and more successes
what Eisenhower wanted in producing both the geophysical year and space exploration was to
find other means to spy on the Soviet Union
the only way was to take the US spy program above the earth and putting it into space
sovereignty over airspace was not yet declared or limited – if you were caught spying over
the other state it was tantamount to declaration of war
given USSR was trying to catch up to US it was imperative that the US knew how far
the Soviet Union had progressed – pictures of military airfields, missile test bases etc.
genuine space exploration was a distant second objective
likewise Soviet program was initiated for the same reasons – rather than provide data and
information on Americans, but also spectacular successes to prove the superiority of the
Soviet Union and communist system
wanted to build a rocket capable of delivering a satellite into orbit
Friday, November 4 1957 – 7 o'clock, 5 minutes into the show was interrupted, Russians
managed to beat the Americans and put a satellite into orbit (Sputnik)
throughout the US most could intercept the satellite's signals, placing satellite into orbit
beat US in the space race, implying that they do have missiles capable of delivering not
only a satellite into orbit but delivering nuclear warhead into the US
a week thereafter a new Soviet satellite with a passenger (dog) – unprecedented Soviet
Americans also tried to manage the Russian success – December 1957
the entire launch was televised, missile fired up, rose two meters and exploded – incredible
humiliation of the US (nicknamed Staynik and Kaputnik)
USSR scored a spectacular victory over the US by launching the first man into orbit – April 12
1961, in orbit above the atmosphere, 2 1/2 hours, broke records
first state to achieve milestone in space exploration
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