Space Race

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The Space Race was a competition of space exploration between the United States of America and Soviet Union, which lasted roughly from 1957 to 1975. It involved the efforts to explore outer space with artificial satellites, to send humans into space, and to land people on the Moon.

Though its roots lie in early rocket technology and in the international tensions following World War II, the Space Race effectively began after the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The term originated as an analogy to the arms race. The Space Race became an important part of the cultural, technological, and ideological rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Space technology became a particularly important arena in this conflict, both because of its potential military applications and due to the morale-boosting psychological benefits.


See also: rocket science

Unguided rockets have interested scientists and amateurs for centuries. The Chinese used them as weapons as early as the 11th century, and simple but inaccurate iron rockets were common ship and land based weapons by the 19th century. Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) theorized in the 1880s on the requirements for rockets that might reach space and established the basics of rocket science; his 'Rocket Equation', which determines flight velocity, is still used in the design of modern rockets today. Tsiolkovsky also wrote the first theoretical description of a man-made satellite. However, not until 1926 did the American Robert Goddard design a practical liquid fuel rocket.

Goddard performed his work on rocketry in general obscurity, as the scientific community, the public, and even The New York Times scoffed at him. It took war to catapult rocketry to notoriety. This proved a harbinger for the future, as any "space race" would become inextricably linked to military ambitions of the nations involved, despite its mostly scientific character and peaceful rhetoric.

German contributions

In the mid-1920s, German scientists began experimenting with rockets powered by liquid propellants that were capable of reaching relatively high altitudes and distances. In 1932, the Reichswehr, predecessor of the Wehrmacht, took an interest in rocketry for long-range artillery fire. Wernher von Braun, an aspiring rocket scientist, joined the effort and developed such weapons for Nazi Germany's use in World War II. Von Braun borrowed heavily from Robert Goddard's original research, studying and improving on Goddard's rockets.

The German A-4 Rocket, launched in 1942, became the first such projectile to reach space. In 1943, Germany began production of its successor, the V-2 rocket, with a range of 300 km (185 mi) and carrying a 1000 kg (2200 lb) warhead. The Wehrmacht fired thousands of V-2s at Allied nations, causing massive damage and loss of life. V2s were even more deadly for the slave laborers forced to produce them, more died making them at Mittelbau Dora Concentration Camp than were killed with the attacks.[1][2]

As World War II drew to a close, U.S., U.K. and S.U. military and scientific crews raced to capture technology and trained personnel from the German rocket program installation at Peenemünde. The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union had some success, but the United States arguably benefited most, taking a large number of German rocket scientists – many of them members of the Nazi Party, including von Braun – from Germany to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip. American scientists adapted the German rockets – for use against hostile nations; and other uses. Post-war scientists, including von Braun, turned to rockets to study high-altitude conditions of temperature and pressure of the atmosphere, cosmic rays, and other topics.

Cold War roots

After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a bitter Cold War of espionage and propaganda. Space exploration and satellite technology could feed into the Cold War on both fronts. Satellite-borne equipment could spy on other countries, while space-faring accomplishments could serve as propaganda to tout a country's scientific prowess and military potential. The same rockets that might send a human into orbit or hit a specific spot on the Moon could send an atom bomb to a specific enemy city. Much of the technological development required for space travel applied equally well to wartime rockets such as Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Along with other aspects of the arms race, progress in space appeared as an indicator of technological and economic prowess, demonstrating the superiority of the ideology of that country. Space research had a dual purpose: it could serve peaceful ends, but could also contribute to military goals.

The two superpowers each worked to gain an edge in space research, neither knowing who might make a breakthrough first. They had each laid the groundwork for a race to space, and awaited only the starter's gun.

Artificial satellites


On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, thus beginning the Space Race.[3] Because of its military and economic implications, Sputnik caused fear and stirred political debate in the United States, spurring the Eisenhower administration to enact several initiatives, including the formation of NASA. At the same time, the Sputnik launch was seen in the Soviet Union as an important sign of scientific and engineering capabilities of the nation.

In the Soviet Union the launch of Sputnik and the following program of space exploration was met with great interest from the public. For the country recently recovered from devastating war it was important and encouraging to see the proof of technical prowess in the new era.

Before Sputnik, the average American assumed that the United States had superiority in all fields of technology. In response to Sputnik, the United States would launch a huge effort to regain technological supremacy, including revamping the school curricula. It took the Soviet achievement of lifting into space a 184 pound communications satellite -- followed within a month by sending up a half ton rocket carrying a live dog -- to arouse the United States to large-scale legislative action. Within less than a year, Congress passed, and President Eisenhower signed, the National Defense Education Act, the most far-reaching federally-sponsored education initiative in the nation's history. The bill authorized expenditures of more than $1 billion for a wide range of reforms including new school construction, fellowships and loans to encourage promising students to seek higher education, new efforts in vocational education to meet critical manpower shortages in the defense industry, and a host of other programs.[4] This reaction is nowadays known as the Sputnik crisis.

As with the Soviet public, the American public followed the succession of launches, and building replicas of rockets became a popular hobby.

Nearly four months after the launch of Sputnik 1, the United States launched its first satellite, Explorer I. In the meantime, a number of embarrassing launch failures had occurred at Cape Canaveral.

The very first satellites were already used for scientific purposes. Sputnik helped to determine the density of the upper atmosphere and Explorer I flight data led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt by James Van Allen.

Satellite communications

The first American communications satellite, Project SCORE, launched on December 18, 1958, relayed a Christmas message from President Eisenhower to the world. Other notable examples of satellite communication during (or spawned by) the Space Race include:

1962: Telstar: the first "active" communications satellite (experimental transoceanic)
1972: Anik 1: first domestic communications satellite (Canada)
1974: WESTAR: first U.S. domestic communications satellite
1976: MARISAT: first mobile communications satellite

Other satellite firsts

The United States launched the first geosynchronous satellite, Syncom-2, on July 26, 1963. The success of this class of satellite meant that a simple satellite dish no longer needed to track the orbit of the satellite, as that orbit remained geostationary. Henceforth ordinary citizens could use satellite-mediated communications transmissions for television broadcasts, after a one-time setup.

Living creatures in space

Animals in space

Fruit flies launched by the United States on captured German V-2 rockets in 1946 became the first reported animals sent into space for scientific study. The first animal sent into orbit, the dog Laika (in English, "Barker"), traveled in the Soviet Union's Sputnik 2 in 1957. She died of stress and overheating soon after reaching space. In 1960 Soviet space dogs Belka and Strelka orbited the earth and successfully returned. The American space program imported chimpanzees from Africa, and sent at least two into space before launching their first human orbiter. SU-launched turtles in 1968 on Zond 5 became the first animals to fly around the Moon.

Humans in space

The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space when he entered orbit in the Soviet Union's Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961, a day now celebrated as a holiday in Russia and in many other countries. 23 days later, on mission Freedom 7, Alan Shepard first entered sub-orbital space for the United States, and John Glenn, in Friendship 7, became the first American to successfully orbit Earth, completing three orbits on February 20, 1962.

The first dual-manned flights also originated in the Soviet Union, August 11 - 15, 1962. Soviet Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963 in Vostok 6. Korolev had initially scheduled further Vostok missions of longer duration, but following the announcement of the Apollo Program, Premier Khrushchev demanded more firsts. The first flight with more than one crew member, the Soviet Union's Voskhod 1, a modified version of the Vostok craft, took off on October 12, 1964 carrying Komarov, Feoktistov and Yegorov. This flight also marked the first occasion on which a crew did not wear spacesuits.

Aleksei Leonov, from Voskhod 2, launched by the Soviet Union on March 18, 1965, carried out the first spacewalk. This mission nearly ended in disaster; Leonov almost failed to return to the capsule and, due to a poor retrorocket fire, the ship landed 1000 miles (1600 km) off target. By this time Khrushchev had left office and the new SU leadership would not commit to an all-out lunar landing effort.

Lunar missions

Though the achievements made by the United States and the Soviet Union brought great pride to their respective nations, the ideological climate ensured that the Space Race would continue at least until the first human walked on the Moon. Before this achievement, unmanned spacecraft had to first explore the Moon by photography and demonstrate their ability to land safely on it.

Unmanned probes

Following the Soviet success in placing the first satellite into orbit, the Americans focused their efforts on sending a probe to the Moon. They called the first attempt to do this the Pioneer program. The Soviet Lunar program became operational with the launch of Luna 1 on January 4, 1959, and Luna 1 became the first probe to reach the vicinity of the Moon. The first craft to land on the Moon was Luna 2 launched on September 12, 1959. In addition to the Pioneer program, there were three specific American programs: the Ranger program, the Lunar Orbiter program, and the robotic Surveyor program, with the goal of locating potential Apollo landing sites on the Moon. They were successful.

Lunar landing

After the Soviet successes, especially Gagarin's flight, President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson looked for an American project that would capture the public’s imagination. The Apollo Program met many of their objectives and promised to defeat arguments from politicians both on the left (who favored social programs) and the right (who favored a more military project). Apollo’s advantages included:

  • economic benefits to several key states in the next election;
  • closing the "missile gap" claimed by Kennedy during the 1960 election through dual-use technology;
  • technical and scientific spin-off benefits

In conversation with NASA’s director, James E. Webb, Kennedy said:

Everything we do ought to really be tied in to getting on to the Moon ahead of the Russians... otherwise we shouldn't be spending that kind of money, because I'm not interested in space... The only justification (for the cost) is because we hope to beat the Soviet Union to demonstrate that instead of being behind by a couple of years, by God, we passed them.[5]

Kennedy and Johnson managed to swing public opinion: by 1965, 58% of Americans favored Apollo, up from 33% in 1963. After Johnson became President in 1963, his continuing support allowed the program to succeed.

The Soviet Union showed a greater ambivalence about human visits to the Moon. SU leader Khrushchev wanted neither "defeat" by another power, nor the expense of such a project. In October 1963 he characterized the Soviet Union as "not at present planning flight by cosmonauts to the Moon", while adding that they had not dropped out of the race. A year passed before the Soviet Union committed itself to a Moon-landing attempt.

In December of 1968, the United States became the front runner in the Space Race when James Lovell, Frank Borman, and Bill Anders orbited the moon. In doing so, they also became the first humans to celebrate Christmas in space, and a few days later they safely splashed down.

Kennedy proposed joint programs, such as a Moon landing by American and Soviet astronauts and improved weather-monitoring satellites. Khrushchev, sensing an attempt to steal superior Russian space technology, rejected these ideas. Sergei Korolev, the Soviet Space Agency's chief designer who designed the R-7 rocket which sent Sputnik into orbit, had started promoting his Soyuz craft and the N1 launcher rocket that had the capacity for a manned Moon landing. Khrushchev directed Korolev's design bureau to arrange further space firsts by modifying the existing Vostok technology, while a second team started building a completely new launcher and craft, the Proton booster and the Zond, for a manned cislunar flight in 1966. In 1964 the new Soviet leadership gave Korolev the backing for a Moon landing effort and brought all manned projects under his direction. With Korolev's death and the failure of the first Soyuz flight in 1967, the co-ordination of the Soviet Moon landing program quickly unraveled. Korolev's first choice for a lunar landing was Vladimir Komarov, but with Komorov's death on the Soyuz 1 in 1967, Yuri Gagarin and Aleksei Leonov became the most likely candidates. However, with Gagarin's death and the successive launch failures of the N1 booster in 1969, plans for a manned landing suffered first delay and then cancellation.

While unmanned SU probes had reached the Moon before any US craft, American Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the lunar surface on 21 July 1969, after landing the previous day. Commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong received backup from command-module pilot Michael Collins and lunar-module pilot Buzz Aldrin in an event watched by over 500 million people around the world. Social commentators widely recognize the lunar landing as one of the defining moments of the 20th century, and Armstrong's words on his first touching the Moon's surface became similarly memorable:

Unlike other international rivalries, the Space Race was not motivated by the desire for territorial expansion. After its successful landings on the Moon, the United States explicitly disclaimed the right to ownership of any part of the Moon.

Other successes

Missions to other planets

The Soviet Union first sent planetary probes to both Venus and Mars in 1960. The first spacecraft to successfully fly by Venus, the United States' Mariner 2, did so on December 14, 1962. It sent back surprising data on the high surface temperature and air density of Venus. Since it carried no cameras, its findings did not capture public attention as did images from space probes, which far exceeded the capacity of astronomers' Earth-based telescopes.

The Soviet Union's Venera 7, launched in 1971, became the first craft to land on Venus. Venera 9 then transmitted the first pictures from the surface of another planet. These represent only two in the long Venera series; several other previous Venera spacecraft performed flyby operations and attempted landing missions. Seven other Venera landers followed.

The United States launched Mariner 10, which flew by Venus on its way to Mercury, in 1974. It became the first, and so far the only, spacecraft to fly by Mercury.

Mariner 4, launched in 1965 by the United States, became the first probe to fly by Mars; it transmitted completely unexpected images. The first spacecraft to land on Mars, Mars 3, launched in 1971 by the USSR, did not return pictures. The US Viking landers of 1976 transmitted the first such pictures.

The United States also sent Pioneer 10 on a successful flyby of Jupiter in 1973. This foreshadowed the first flyby of Saturn in 1979 with Pioneer 11, and the first and only flybys of Uranus and Neptune with Voyager 2.

Launches and docking

The first space rendezvous took place between Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 , both SU craft, on August 12, 1962. [6]

The US craft Gemini 8, performed the first orbital space docking on March 16, 1966. The first automatic space docking linked the Soviet Union's Cosmos-186 and Cosmos-188 (two unmanned Soyuz spacecraft) on October 30, 1967.

The first launch from the sea took place with the United States' Scout B, on April 26, 1967. The first space station, the Soviet Union's Salyut 1, commenced operations on June 7, 1971.

Military competition

Out of view, but no less real a competition, the drive to develop space for military uses paralleled scientific efforts. Well before the launch of Sputnik 1, both the United States and the Soviet Union started developing plans for reconnaissance satellites. The SU Zenit spacecraft, which by the dual-use designed in by Korolev eventually became Vostok, began as a photoimaging satellite. It competed with the US Air Force's Discoverer series. Discoverer XIII provided the first payload recovered from space in August 1960 - one day ahead of the first Soviet recovered payload.

Both the United States of America and the Soviet Union developed major military space programs, often following a pattern whereby the United States only completed a mockup before its program ended, while the Soviet Union built, or even orbited, theirs:

  1. Supersonic Intercontinental Cruise Missile: Navaho (test program stopped) vs. Buran cruise missile (plan)
  2. Small Winged Spacecraft: X-20 Dyna-Soar (mockup) vs. MiG-105 (flight-tested)
  3. Satellite Inspection Capsule: Blue Gemini (mockup) vs. Soyuz interceptor (plan)
  4. Military Space Station: MOL (plan) vs. Almaz (flown somewhat modified as Salyut 2, 3, and 5)
  5. Military Capsule with hatch in heat shield: Gemini B (tested crewless in space) vs. VA TKS, also known as Merkur space capsule (flown crewless as part of TKS)
  6. Ferry to Military Space Station: Gemini Ferry (plan) vs. TKS (flown crewless in space, and docked with a Salyut)

"End" of the Space Race

While the Sputnik 1 launch can clearly be called the start of the Space Race, its end is more debatable. Most hotly contested during the 1960s, the Space Race continued apace through the Apollo moon landing of 1969. Although they followed Apollo 11 with five more manned lunar landings, American space scientists turned to new arenas. Skylab would gather data, and the Space Shuttle would work on returning spaceships intact from space journeys. Russians would claim that by first sending a man into space they had won this unofficial "race," however Americans would claim that by first landing a man on the moon they had won. In any event, as the Cold War subsided, and as other nations began to develop their own space programs, the notion of a continuing "race" between the two superpowers became less real.

Both nations had developed manned military space programs. The USAF had proposed using its Titan missile to launch the Dyna-Soar hypersonic glider to use in intercepting enemy satellites. The plan for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (using hardware based on the Gemini program to carry out surveillance missions) superseded Dyna-Soar, but this also suffered cancellation. The Soviet Union commissioned the Almaz program for a similar manned military space station, which merged with the Salyut program.

The Space Race slowed after the Apollo landing, which many observers describe as its apex or even as its end. Others, including space historian Carole Scott and Romanian Dr. Florin Pop's Cold War Project, feel its end came most clearly with the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975. The Soviet craft Soyuz 19 met and docked in space with America's Apollo, allowing astronauts from the "rival" nations to pass into each other's ships and participate in combined experimentation. Although each country's endeavors in space persisted, they went largely in different "directions", and the notion of a continuing two-nation "race" became outdated after Apollo-Soyuz.

Even at this point of cooperation the SU leadership was alarmed at the prospect of United States Air Force involvement with the Space Shuttle program and began the competing Buran and Energia projects. In the early 1980s the commencement of the US Strategic Defense Initiative further escalated competition that only resolved with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989.

Organization, funding, and economic impact

The huge expenditures and bureaucracy needed to organize successful space exploration led to the creation of national space agencies. The United States and the Soviet Union developed programs focused solely on the scientific and industrial requirements for these efforts.

On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA consisted mainly of the four laboratories and some 8,000 employees of the government's 46-year-old research agency for aeronautics, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). While its predecessor, NACA, operated on a $5 million budget, NASA funding rapidly accelerated to $5 billion per year, including huge sums for subcontractors from the private sector. The Apollo 11 Moon landing, the high point of NASA's success, cost an estimated $US 20 to 25 billion.

Lack of reliable statistics makes it difficult to compare US and SU space spending, especially during the Khrushchev years. However in 1989, the then-Chief of Staff of the SU Armed Services, General M. Moiseyev, reported that the Soviet Union had allocated 6.9 billion rubles (about $4 billion) to its space program that year.[7] Other SU officials estimated that their total manned space expenses totalled about that amount over the entire duration of the programs, with some lower unofficial estimates of about four and half billion rubles. In addition to the murkiness of the figures, such comparisons must also take into account the likely effect of Soviet propaganda, which pursued the goal of making the Soviet Union look strong and of confusing the Western analysis.

Organizational issues, particularly internal rivalries, also plagued the Soviet effort. The Soviet Union had nothing like NASA (the Russian Aviation and Space Agency originated only in the 1990s). Too many political issues in science and too many personal views handicapped Soviet progress. Every SU chief designer had to stand for his own ideas, looking for the patronage of a communist official. In 1964, between the various chief designers, the Soviet Union was developing 30 different programs of launcher and spacecraft design. Following the death of Korolev the Soviet space program became reactive, attempting to maintain parity with the United States. In 1974 the Soviet Union reorganized its space program, creating the Energia project to duplicate the US Space Shuttle with Buran.

The Soviets also operated in the face of an economic disadvantage. Although the SU economy was the second largest in the world, the US economy was the largest. Eventually the Soviets' inefficient organization and lack of funds led them to lose their early advantage. Some observers have argued that the high economic cost of the space race, along with the extremely expensive arms race, eventually deepened the economic crisis of the SU system during the late 1970s and 80's and was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.



When the United States' Apollo 15 left the moon, the astronauts left behind a memorial to astronauts from both nations who had perished during the efforts to reach the Moon. In the United States, the first astronauts to die during direct participation in space travel or preparation served in Apollo 1: Command Pilot "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White, and Pilot Roger Chaffee. These three died in a fire during a ground test on January 27, 1967.

Flights of the Soviet Union's Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11 also resulted in cosmonaut deaths. Soyuz 1, launched into orbit on April 23, 1967, carried a single cosmonaut, Colonel Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov, who died when the spacecraft crashed after return to Earth. In 1971, Soyuz 11's cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev, and Vladislav Volkov asphyxiated during reentry. Since 1971, the Soviet/Russian space program has suffered no further losses.

Other astronauts died in related missions, including four Americans who died in crashes of T-38 aircraft. Soviet Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, met a similar death when he crashed in a MiG-15 'Fagot' fighter in 1968.

Unknown to the public at the time, the Soviets had exploded two of their N-1 rockets, killing hundreds of people. Many people believe that the worst disaster in space exploration was the R-16 failure in 1960, when a designer jammed a bad plug into the rocket, causing the rocket to ignite in flames. The toxic fuel and fire killed almost everyone around the rocket (with the exceptions of designer Valentin Glushko and some of his assistants).

Advances in technology and education

Technology, especially in aerospace engineering and electronic communication, advanced greatly during this period. The effects of the Space Race however went far beyond rocketry, physics, and astronomy. "Space age technology" extended to fields as diverse as home economics and forest defoliation studies, and the push to win the race changed the very ways in which students learned science.

American concerns that they had fallen so quickly behind the Soviets in the race to space led quickly to a push by legislators and educators for greater emphasis on mathematics and on the physical sciences in American schools. The United States' National Defense Education Act of 1958 increased funding for these goals from childhood education through the post-graduate level. To this day over 1,200 American High Schools retain their own planetarium installations, a situation unparalleled in any other country worldwide and a direct consequence of the Space Race.

The scientists fostered by these efforts helped develop for space exploration technologies which have seen adapted uses ranging from the kitchen to athletic fields. Dried watermelon and ready-to-eat foods, stay-dry clothing, and even no-fog ski goggles have their roots in space science.

Today over a thousand artificial satellites orbit earth, relaying communications data around the planet and facilitating remote sensing of data on weather, vegetation, and human movements to nations who employ them. In addition, much of the micro-technology which fuels everyday activities from time-keeping to enjoying music derives from research initially driven by the Space Race.

The Soviet Union remained the undisputed leader in rocketry, even up to the end of the Cold War. The United States became superior in electronics, remote sensing, vehicle guidance, and robotic control

Recent events

Although its pace has slowed, space exploration continues to advance long after the demise of the Space Race. The United States launched the first reusable spacecraft (space shuttle) on the 20th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, April 12, 1981. On November 15, 1988, the Soviet Union launched Buran, their first and only reusable spacecraft. These and other nations continue to launch probes, satellites of many types, and huge space telescopes.

The possibility of a second international space race appeared at the end of the 20th century, with the European Space Agency taking the lead in commercial rocket launches with Ariane 4, and competing in unmanned space exploration with NASA. ESA's efforts have culminated into ambitious plans such as the Aurora Programme that intends to send a human mission to Mars no later than 2030, and has set various flagship missions to reach this goal. With US President Bush's similar announcement in 2004, outlining a timeframe for the construction and mission plan of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (a subsequent return to the Moon and later to Mars by 2030), the two major space agencies have similar plans. As of 2005 ESA might have a headstart, as it has teamed up with Russia. They are likely to co-fund and develop the Crew Exploration Vehicle counterpart Kliper spacecraft that is scheduled to first launch in 2011, years earlier than its American opponent, which is yet in an early draft status. As of 2006 the ESA has yet to fund a study of Kliper.

Other nations are also capable of increasing competition in space exploration, most notably Japan, China, and India. Although China's funding is not in the same league with ESA or NASA, the successful manned space flights of Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6 and plans for a space station by the Chinese space program of the People's Republic of China have shown what the country can accomplish. The United States military is evidently keeping a close watch on China's space aspirations, with the Pentagon releasing a report in 2006 detailing concerns about China's growing space power.[8] In early 2007 China launched a ballistic missile to destroy a satellite, frustrating international observers as this had violated a consensus not to attempt such maneuvers in space that have military undertones. This was some token that the space race had not really ever ended and actually had only expanded. In addition to China, India also has active space programs, with India's national space agency, ISRO, planning to launch an unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, by early 2008. India also has plans for manned space flights and an unmanned mission to Mars in 2012.[9]

Modern day 'Commercial' Space Race

Another kind of space race may differ in nature from the original Soviet-American competition, as it could occur between commercial space enterprises. Early efforts in what is commonly referred to as space tourism, to run the first commercial trips into orbit, culminated on April 28, 2001 when American Dennis Tito became the first fee-paying space tourist when he visited the International Space Station on board Russia's Soyuz TM-32. The Ansari X Prize, a competition for private suborbital spaceships, has also evoked the prospect of a new space race by private companies. In late 2004, British aviator-financier Richard Branson announced the launch of Virgin Galactic, a company which will use SpaceShipOne technology, with hopes of launching sub-orbital flights by 2008.


  1. The Mittelwerk V-2 factory produced some 4,575 V-2s between August, 1944 and March, 1945—the period in which these rockets were headed for firing batteries (as opposed, earlier on, to development testing). It is also estimated that of the 60,000+ detainees employed in and around the Mittelbau complex over a 20-month period, 26,500 did not survive. (Estimates of the total number of prisoners in the complex at range between 40,000 and 64,000). Sellier attributes 15,500 of these deaths to the camps or to “transports”, and 11,000 to the period in April, 1945 when the camps were evacuated by the SS in the face of the American advance. This evacuation was especially barbaric. The SS shot prisoners, herded them into barns and burned them alive, left them to die if they were too sick to walk, or made them part of walking or rail convoys headed to other concentration camps. (It was at this time that the Boelcke Kaserne, a barracks in Nordhausen later to be discovered by U.S. troops, became an SS dumping ground for prisoners from several camps who were too sick to transport. It is a little known truth that more people died manufacturing the V-2 than were killed by its blast. Each operational V-2 to come off the Mittelwerk line consumed about six human lives.Grigorieff, Paul. Mittelbau The Human Cost. The A-4/V-2 Resource Site. v2rocket.coml.
  2. Sergeant Ragene Farris of the 329th Medical Battalion,104th Infantry Division, was there and explained the impact of the gruesome sights at Nordhausen upon the men of the 104th...The strongly Nazified town of Nordhausen fell before air-armor and night attack on 11 April...Lying among the multitudes of dead were reported to be a few living 'beings'and with quick medical attention some might be saved...a job distasteful and sobering; one created by the fanatical inhuman Nazi machine...A few men were able to walk...There were lash marks... - definite proof of beatings and floggings by their inhuman guards....many of the 3,000 dead in the camp had been worked, beaten and forced at top speed until they could work on longer, after which they were starved off or killed outright."Mittelbau Dora Concentration Camp. National Timberwolf Association. Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  3. Sputnik and The Dawn of the Space Age. NASA.
  4. Dow, Peter. "SPUTNIK REVISITED: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON SCIENCE REFORM". symposium hosted by the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education. Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  5. From a tape recording in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library.
  6. Record of Manned Space Flights. NASA. Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  7. Oberg, James, in Final Frontier, as reprinted in The New Book of Popular Science Annual, 1992
  8. Leonard, David (2006-06-05). Report: China’s Military Space Power Growing. Retrieved on 2006-06-08.
  9. Srikanth, B.R. (2006-11-25). India's Mars odyssey. Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 2007-03-25.