November 5 , 2013
The Scientific Competition
Key Words Notes
All the countries US, UK and Soviet Union wanted to represent
their own economic systems as the superior economic systems and
the way to go and as the future.
- However in the end the Soviet Union had no chance what so
- Even though Soviet Union was richer in Natural resources the
ideology and the economic aspects of it precluded a victory. It
was impossible for them to reach America .
- However the Soviet Union still managed for quite a while to
represent itself and it's political system and ideology as
unattainable, but also as superior. That had a lot to do with
another aspect of the competition. And that relates to the
a. the two scientific communities fought it out through out the
b. in particular in the first decade both sides saw to achieve
spectacular results and though those results to provide and
convince the rest of the world that their system was the one
that would lead the bright future and ensure that majority
of the population had a good standard of living.
- However, keep in mind that it was the Soviet Union who took
the advantage of the initial break through and the spectacular
results. And by doing so they gained another 20-30 years of life
to compete with the Americans.
- More so, the Soviet Union, although was rich in natural
references, in political and in every other facet of economic life
it was poorer than the United States. If you think of it the
Bolshevik resolution in 1943-at times the Soviet Union was not
only barely able to feed its population at times it failed in other
basic responsibility. We do have several occasions in the
revolution when the soviet population suffered a lot and lost
millions of lives.
- Yet, imagine that society despite all of its backwardness and
imperfect political system and the economic ideology pretty
much eliminates ingenuity and incentives and so on. They
managed to outsmart and outperform. At one stroke they
presented the Soviet Union as the future of the world. you
cannot have it any better than this. these were all in the public
Therefore, how did the Soviet Union manage to do this?
The Space Race. How did the space race start? You have to keep in
mind Khrushchev’s thaw in the mid 1950s. when eh approached
the western states and said that co-existence is the way to go. We do not have to fight with the west, but that both of us can co-exist
at the same time. that meant for the first time since 1945 scientific
cooperation’s between the two blocs.
The first manifestation of that was a promise to work together in
space exploration and to work together on scientific projects
related to space programs that were related to the sun and moon.
That came in the form of international astronautically
federations in July 1955.
- both parties not only participated and offered cooperation’s
and exchange of scientific results, but also stood up and made
declarations. During the conference an American delegate
stood up and said that in the interest of the world we offer and
promise to launce a satellite by next year. So by next year we
will launce a satellite and break through that barrier and
produce a scientific model.
- Once the Americans said that two days later the Soviet delegate
at the very end of the conference made a pledge that the Soviet
union too will launce a satellite and break through scientific
- Why was this the case? Why did the soviet feel the need to
match the Americans in the proposal. They feared that the
Americans wanted to start a space race. They feared that the
Americans falling back and relaying on their superior
technology and industrial base to excel and become better than
the Americans. They wanted to take the competition on a new
field and area and overpower Soviet Union.
- That was far from the American mind. Eisenhower had other
things on his mind. He didn’t want to start a competition in an
area where the Americans did not know much.
Eisenhower’s concerns and objectives.
- Eisenhower’s concerns came from an entirely different
- His concern was to ensure that the Americans could keep an
eye on the Soviet Union, and all the develops-both military and
a. It was this year that the Soviet Union openly rejected
Eisenhower’s idea of an open sky. Basically allowing each
side to minority the political and economic developments of
b. That being the case Eisenhower waned to make sure the
Russians will not pull up a surprise and perhaps launce a
preemptive strike against the Americans.
- However that required a constant monitoring of the Soviet
Union. The only way to do that was to either sends a spy plane
hanging over the Soviet Union day in and day out or breaking
through scientific barriers and creating a satellite.
a. the reason why he opted for a satellite was better was
because of few reasons’ i. first to send a spy plane always carried the risk of
being shut down or provoking a conflict and perhaps
even trigging a war. sending a spy mission back then
was not accepted. At times it would be taken as a
declaration of war. Thus Eisenhower was concerned
that eventually the Russians would use it as a pretext
ii. The other reason why Eisenhower was concerned
and wanted to go a step forward rather than a spy
mission was because back then in the mid 50’s what
consisted of state air space was not yet determined.
He said that if we wait the soviets would eventually
declared the space over the Soviet Union up into the
infinite cosmos. Therefore would never allow us to
go over it and by pass that without creating an
international conflict. however, if we manage to
create a satellite and launch it and allow it to go over
the world the soviet union would be forced to accept
a fate that was complete and never declare the air
space over the soviet union as infinite. That would
allow us to spy on the Soviet Union, to gather
information without creating an international crisis.
- However, how does one achieve it? What is the way to go
around it. You have to keep in mind that the United States,
unlike the Soviet Union was not centrally controlled. Every
branch of the American armed forced was independent and
competed against one another. All three wanted to be the
beneficiaries of this program, wanted the resources attached to
this program and you were talking about billions of potential
dollars. As a result there was an army-navy-air force
competition. They started a missile program to build the proper
system to allow them to launce a satellite. Constantly
competing with one another
- Wanted to avoid a potential confrontation with the Soviet
Union he decided than such program, would be best around
handled and administrated by civilian agencies. The Russians
could never charge the Americans with spying if that research
program was to be run by civilian agencies. Thus in the summer
of 1957 there was a … to create such an institutions.
- In the summer of 1958 NASA was created and national
astronomical space administration.
a. It was given a budget of 100 million dollars to begin with.
b. It was also allowed to gather some of the best scientist in
the United States.
c. NASA achieved some great victories. However it needed
time, and indeed it took time for the Americans to create a
Khrushchev’s concerns and objectives:
- While Eisenhower struggled with these ideas Khrushchev very much had an agenda of his own.
- In some ways it was similar to the agenda of Eisenhower.
- Khrushchev too was concerned about the development of the
United States military capabilities. Khrushchev was also
concerned that the Americans might pull out a surprise attack.
However his decision to launch a satellite program was not
because of these concerned, but because he realized of the fact
that the United States in a steady economic development could
never reach it. What he wanted was very similar to Eisenhower.
He wanted to achieve spectacular scientist results. Almost
identical to his program of building socialism in Africa. He could
not transform the entire continent, therefore he only picked a
few cases of which would become windows of socialism. He
followed the same approach for the space race. He could not
match the United States across all platforms. Therefore only
occasional successes would suffice. However those had to be
spectacular successes and had to be so great and important that
it would move the Soviet Union as being ahead o the United
- Khrushchev did achieve his objective. Before the Americans
even got ff the ground he achieved his objective. Utilizing
already existing technologies, (both the Americans and the
Russians borrowed from German technologies) and grew for
the first time. they caught the Americans and the rest of the
world off guard and shocked them.
- October 4 1957 the primere night of Leave it to Beaver first
time televised in the United States. The entire nation was glued
to the TV. 15 minutes into the show it was suspended and it
was terminated. The announced came through to tell the
American public that the Russians managed to launch a satellite
into space. This was shocking and was reported all over the
world. the Russians had such propaganda with it.
a. they attached a radio under the satellite than kept beeping.
It allowed all radios all over the world to intercept it.
b. Therefore making apparent to the whole world apparent
that the Russians broke through.
- Why was this such as success? As the Americans said later on,
Edward Teller father of the American Hydrogen bomb, “the
Americans lost a more significant and important battle than the
battle of pearl Harbor.” Furthermore, as Johnson’s said “the
first step to control the universe was that whoever had the
advantage of the height had the advantage flaunting the
satellite had the advantage of delivering the first blow” it was
this that shook the American administration to the core. After
all America at this point was seen as a pinnacle of technological
advancement. and the backward and poor Russians by one
stroke were able to overtake the Russians.
- The satellite itself 180 pounds also told the American military
leaders that the missile launched could have 180 pounds of nuclear warhead. The American at this point were nowhere
close to the having that technology. Their response to Sputnik
was the Vanguard Project in December 1957 that could lift
only 8 pounds satellite. Khrushchev mockingly said the untied
states could only launch a grape into the satellite.
- The Americans had televised it openly to illustrate that they
were on an equal footing with the Russians. Sure enough barely
had it lifted off the ground it came crashing down and exploded
in front of the 40 million American viewers. It was a terrible
debacle for the Americans.
- Soon after Sputnik was launched the Russians launched a dog
into space in the same year in November 1957-
Ruff…Ruff…Ruff…Laika. This was the first living organism to
be launched into the space. This demonstrated their
technological advantage over the United States. It became a
sensation. By some accounts a living proof that actually the
soviets ha the advantage over the United States.
- As it turned out that while the Russians did gain spectacular
success it did raise the eye of the British Pet Association.
- In the end the Russians scored exactly what Khrushchev had
a. international successes: didn’t rally change the balance of
power between the two however it did give an appearance
of an upper hand.
The Manned Mission
- in 1961 April there Russians managed to lance the first man
Yuri Gagarin in Vostok I.
a. this was a tremendous success. Even the Americans had to
acknowledge. It was an incredible success. For 108 minutes.
It demonstrated that the Russians actually did lead the
world in space.
b. He retuned back as a hero of the world. he was even on the
cover on TIME magazine. The soviets chose a good-looking
person, because in the end he would be representing the
Soviet Union. The Russians wanted the rest of the world toe
believe that Russians were good looking.
c. When he returned he was made a hero of the Soviet Union.
Borrowing a page from the United States for the first time in
the life of the Soviet Union it was televised live. When he
landed in Moscow and was greeted by Khrushchev. He
became a popular individual thereafter. What the Russians
did not show speaks volumes against Russian society. what
they did not show was the full picture. That was when
Gagarin landed in Moscow to be greeted by the world his
shoe laces are undone. He later on admitted that he was
terrified of slopping on the carpet in front of everyone. Why
was this a possibility? It all comes down to soviet economy. The soviet economy did not produce shoelaces that would
measure to the shoes. They produced uniform shoelaces
about a meter long. It did not matter if they were for adults
or for children. This speaks of the mentality of the Soviets.
d. Gagarin landed in Soviet Union to receive congratulations.
Thereafter the United States, Western Europe, Africa,
everywhere was greeted as a hero..
- Afterward the Americans had to answer somehow. In May
1961 Freedom 7 was a failed mission. Alan Shepard never
reached orbit. His spacecraft remained in the atmosphere. After
a few minutes returned back to earth. Again, this demonstrated
how much ahead the Soviet Union was.
- Vostok II (vostok means east. symbolizing the rise of the east-
soviet union) in august 1961 Ghermantitov the second
cosmonaut orbited for a day and a half around earth. This
demonstrated the ability to live in space. This was a huge
- Only a year after in February 1962 did the Americans match
the soviet technology. John glen reaching through orbit and
going around the world several times and coming back.
- Apparently it seems that in the 1960’s the American’s had the
advantage and reaped the benefits all over the world.
diplomatic coup after coup. That was not all.
- Dual combo: that was not all. They continued by sending two
space ships into space at the same time in august 1962. These
were Vostok III and Vostok IV. In addition trying for the first
time to connect the spacecraft and making living in space a
possibility in the future. All of these were huge developments
and steps forward.
a. in mid 60 in Hungary there was this huge Soccer game.
about 60,000 people in the stadium. It was night. During the
first half, after 25 mins after the game started all the lights
were turned off. The announcers made an announcement to
look up at the sky. The two space ships were going to fly
over the capital Budapest. 50,000-60,000 people witness
these two spacecraft.
b. This was important because the Hungarian had no love for
the Russians. However, at that moment it seemed that
communism did triumph. The Americans were not even
close to that. The Hungarian simply awed by such
- By 1962 the Russian were able to send the first women and
civilian into space. Valentina Tereshkova in June 1963.
Khrushchev did not care about this, because it cost a lot of
money. however in terms of diplomacy and public relations you
could not have had it better. They decided to send women to
show the possibility of communism. They wanted to illustrate
that Communism was about gender equality, even though it
turned out Khrushchev hated Tereshkova. However she was sent there scoring more victories for the Soviet Union.
- Voskhod 3: Alexei Leonow: first Space walk March 1965,
Finally in the mid 60s there was an achievement by the Soviets.
This one allowed the astronaut to leave the space craft-going
into space and floating there for 8 and half minutes and going
back. This was tremendous result.
- However, one has to be aware that all of this came at a
tremendous cost. Not just in terms of money, which could have
been used better. If Khrushchev had wanted to spend that
money on the people, but he did not. These spectacular
scientific discoveries bought in more positive results for the
Soviet Union than a 20-30 year attempt to catch up with
America in terms of standard of living.
- Prices paid:
a. nedelin catastrophe October 1960: major explosion at the
soviet space station fueling a rocket and misfiring. The missile
blew up and burned a 150 top military leaders and scientists. it
was not announced till the collapse of the soviet union. It was
kept top secret.
- Valentin Bondarento March 1961: burned astronaut. He
burned up in his spacecraft during a test. The Russians had
experimented in pure oxygen. Had they published that news
the Americans may have avoided similar fate. They did not
know. Therefore their own astronaut perished in a similar
experiment-by using pure oxygen as air for the aircraft.
- Lenovo’s space walk almost ended up in a tragedy. The
Russians tried out their space suit several times. However, they
tried it under normal circumstances. When he went up to space
and walked out his suit puffed up a lot more than it had done
under normal atmospheric pressure. he couldn’t get to his
spacecraft because the suit expanded too much. he had to
deflate his own suit. This was a major risk.
- Apollo I Jan 1967
In the early 1960’s the Russians were seen as space explorations.
Sure enough Khrushchev reaped the benefits. He took over the
Soviet Union. the first stage of the science competition belonged to
the Soviet Union. however Kennedy demanded a reply and
committed himself to catch up with the Soviet Union.
The Moon Race:
- Kennedy wanted a response. So he asked his vice president to
look into a program that would allow him to not only catch up
with the Soviet Union, but also pass it.
- The US senate a study of the competition between the two
states. The conclusion of tat study in 1960 was that if the
United States government does not catch up the Soviet Union
would surpass the United States in influence all over the world.
it is imperative for the United States to match success by
success, and to demonstrate an ability of the capitalist economy
and the free world. - Based on that in 1961 Kennedy approached his Vice President
and asked him to look around for an rea to engage in which
they could over come to the Soviet union. after a year of study
Johnson returned back and produced a program and said it was
a. it would be just spectacular as the early soviet union
b. it does give us enough time (from 1961 till the end of the
decade) to create an industrial and technological base that
would suffice for us to achieve that break through.
c. It isn’t that distance in the future that the Russians would
still not be able to match us. therefore it would guarantee an
- It was this that prompted Kennedy to deliver a major speech at
Rice University. He said “we chose the moon not because it
is easy, but because it is hard.” In September 1962. Therefore
challenging the industrial and technological society to work
together. It is this time when scientific programs were
established in American universities. Up until this point no one
cared about it. The political climate became so dire that the
Americans had to response.
- The discussion between James Webb-John Kennedy (NASA
director and president) he asked him if it was possible to
reach the moon and James said, “yes, however we need time
because we do not know anything about the moon” Kennedy
said that he better do it because they were spending billion on
the Space program. The whole purpose was to defeat the
Russians. In other words true scientific exploration and true
space exploration was at second. Primarily it was a political
game and caused propaganda. However, we did end up with
scientific exploration. But that was only as a second rate
- Given that the American lay down the conditions of the Apollo
and the Gemini program. Which was training for the landing of
the moon. It established new scientific basis, new spacecraft
that would allow several cruise and allow activity outside of it.
All of this had to be experimented and tried out.
- The Russians also tried their own but they could not match the
system. their systems Soyuz and Zond failed. That gave the
Americans 5-6 years of advance. By July 1969 Apollo II landed
on the moon.
- Armstrong “one Small step for a man giant leap for
mankind.” This was symbolic. However in a way it
demonstrated the American ability, superiority, and incredible
technological advances. Clearly beating the Russians at their
- from then on the Russians could always play catch up. At one
point Kennedy offered to work together in 1962 to reach the
moon. However given the optical climate and the mistrust that had developed by 1972 the Russians turned down the offer.
The Space race was won by the Americans. The early success that
the Soviet Union had were easily over come. It was a great
technological development to land on the moon than to launch a
satellite or get a human into space. The Russians never recovered,
and their space program since then went down. That being the
case, and of course by the 1970s the political climate had changed
considerably. Both sides decided to follow a détente in space .
from 1975 to the early 1980s they were several space missions in
the end they were able to join space stations showing the rest of
the world that competition was not necessary always. They could
work together hand and hand.
The essence of it is that the Americans managed to overcome the
Russians, which means that the Russians had to fall back on politics
and diplomacy- at times cooperation and at times conflict.
The Berlin Crisis
Key Words Notes
In some topics you may have to bring in histography. There are
issues that a