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For discussion of all spaceflight programs to date, see History of spaceflight. For a list of key events, see Timeline of the Space Race. For other uses of the term, see Space Race (disambiguation).Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. The competition began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite "in the near future". The Soviet Union beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik 1. The Space Race peaked with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11, and concluded in a period of détente with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, resulting in the July 1975 rendezvous in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew.
The Space Race had its origins in the missile-based arms race that occurred following World War II, when both the Soviet Union and the United States captured advanced German rocket technology and personnel.
The Space Race has left a legacy of Earth communications and weather satellites, and continuing human space presence on the International Space Station. It has also sparked increases in spending on education and research and development, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Early Space Race: 1950s
- 3 First humans in space
- 4 Kennedy directs the race toward the Moon
- 5 Completion of Vostok and Mercury programs
- 6 Kennedy proposes a joint US-USSR program
- 7 Gemini and Voskhod
- 8 Soviet Moon program
- 9 Outer space treaty
- 10 Disaster strikes both sides
- 11 To the Moon
- 12 Apollo 11
- 13 The 1970s
- 14 Legacy
- 15 See also
- 16 Notes
- 17 References
- 18 External links
World War IIWorld War II when Nazi Germany researched and built operational ballistic missiles. Starting in the early 1930s, during the last stages of the Weimar Republic, German aerospace engineers experimented with liquid-fueled rockets, with the goal that one day they would be capable of reaching high altitudes and traversing long distances. The head of the German Army's Ballistics and Munitions Branch, Lieutenant Colonel Karl Emil Becker, gathered a small team of engineers that included Walter Dornberger and Leo Zanssen, to figure out how to use rockets as long-range artillery in order to get around the Treaty of Versailles' ban on research and development of long-range cannons. Wernher von Braun, a young engineering prodigy, was recruited by Becker and Dornberger to join their secret army program at Kummersdorf-West in 1932. Von Braun had dreams about conquering outer space with rockets, and did not initially see the military value in missile technology.
During the Second World War, General Dornberger was the military head of the army's rocket program, Zanssen became the commandant of the Peenemünde army rocket centre, and von Braun was the technical director of the ballistic missile program. They would lead the team that built the Aggregate-4 (A-4) rocket, which became the first vehicle to reach outer space during its test flight program in 1942 and 1943. By 1943, Germany began mass-producing the A-4 as the Vergeltungswaffe 2 ("Vengeance Weapon" 2, or more commonly, V2), a ballistic missile with a 320 kilometers (200 mi) range carrying a 1,130 kilograms (2,490 lb) warhead at 4,000 kilometers per hour (2,500 mph). Its supersonic speed meant there was no defense against it, and radar detection provided little warning. Germany used the weapon to bombard southern England and parts of Allied-liberated western Europe from 1944 until 1945. After the war, the V-2 became the basis of early American and Soviet rocket designs.
At war's end, American, British, and Soviet scientific intelligence teams competed to capture Germany's rocket engineers along with the German rockets themselves and the designs on which they were based. Each of the Allies captured a share of the available members of the German rocket team, but the United States benefited the most with Operation Paperclip, recruiting von Braun and most of his engineering team, who later helped develop the American missile and space exploration programs. The United States also acquired a large number of complete V2 rockets.
Rocket teams assembled The Soviet rocket engineers were led by Sergei Korolev. He had been involved in space clubs and early Soviet rocket design in the 1930s, but was arrested in 1938 during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and imprisoned for six years in Siberia. After the war, he became the USSR's chief rocket and spacecraft engineer, essentially the Soviet counterpart to von Braun. His identity was kept a state secret throughout the Cold War, and he was identified publicly only as "the Chief Designer." In the West, his name was only officially revealed when he died in 1966.
After almost a year in the area around Peenemünde, Soviet officials moved most of the captured German rocket specialists to Gorodomlya Island on Lake Seliger, about 240 kilometers (150 mi) northwest of Moscow. They were not allowed to participate in Soviet missile design, but were used as problem-solving consultants to the Soviet engineers. They helped in the following areas: the creation of a Soviet version of the A-4; work on "organizational schemes"; research in improving the A-4 main engine; development of a 100-ton engine; assistance in the "layout" of plant production rooms; and preparation of rocket assembly using German components. With their help, particularly Helmut Groettrup's group, Korolev reverse-engineered the A-4 and built his own version of the rocket, the R-1, in 1948. Later, he developed his own distinct designs, though many of these designs were influenced by the Groettrup Group's G4-R10 design from 1949. The Germans were eventually repatriated in 1951–53.
In America, Von Braun and his team were sent to the United States Army's White Sands Proving Ground, located in New Mexico, in 1945. They set about assembling the captured V2s and began a program of launching them and instructing American engineers in their operation. These tests led to the first rocket to take photos from outer space, and the first two-stage rocket, the WAC Corporal-V2 combination, in 1949. The German rocket team was moved from Fort Bliss to the Army's new Redstone Arsenal, located in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1950. From here, Von Braun and his team would develop the Army's first operational medium-range ballistic missile, the Redstone rocket, that would, in slightly modified versions, launch both America's first satellite, and the first piloted Mercury space missions. It became the basis for both the Jupiter and Saturn family of rockets.
Cold War arms raceThe Cold War (1947–1991) developed between two former allies, the Soviet Union and the United States, soon after the end of the Second World War. It involved a continuing state of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition, primarily between the Soviet Union and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, particularly the United States. Although the primary participants' military forces never clashed directly, they expressed this conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, extensive aid to states deemed vulnerable, proxy wars, espionage, propaganda, a nuclear arms race, and economic and technological competitions, such as the Space Race.
In simple terms, the Cold War could be viewed as an expression of the ideological struggle between communism and capitalism. The United States faced a new uncertainty beginning in September 1949, when it lost its monopoly on the atomic bomb. American intelligence agencies discovered that the Soviet Union had exploded its first atomic bomb, with the consequence that the United States potentially could face a future nuclear war that, for the first time, might devastate its cities. Given this new danger, the United States participated in an arms race with the Soviet Union that included development of the hydrogen bomb, as well as intercontinental strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of delivering nuclear weapons. A new fear of communism and its sympathizers swept the United States during the 1950s, which devolved into paranoid McCarthyism. With communism spreading in China, Korea, and Eastern Europe, Americans came to feel so threatened that popular and political culture condoned extensive "witch-hunts" to expose communist spies. Part of the American reaction to the Soviet atomic and hydrogen bomb tests included maintaining a large Air Force, under the control of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). SAC employed intercontinental strategic bombers, as well as medium-bombers based close to Soviet airspace (in western Europe and in Turkey) that were capable of delivering nuclear payloads.
For its part, the Soviet Union harbored fears of invasion. Having suffered at least 27 million casualties during World War II after being invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941, the Soviet Union was wary of its former ally, the United States, which until late 1949 was the sole possessor of atomic weapons. The United States had used these weapons operationally during World War II, and it could use them again against the Soviet Union, laying waste its cities and military centers. Since the Americans had a much larger air force than the Soviet Union, and the United States maintained advance air bases near Soviet territory, in 1947 Stalin ordered the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in order to counter the perceived American threat.
In 1953, Korolev was given the go-ahead to develop the R-7 Semyorka rocket, which represented a major advance from the German design. Although some of its components (notably boosters) still resembled the German G-4, the new rocket incorporated staged design, a completely new control system, and a new fuel. It was successfully tested on 21 August 1957 and became the world's first fully operational ICBM the following month. It would later be used to launch the first satellite into space, and derivatives would launch all piloted Soviet spacecraft.
The United States had multiple rocket programs divided among the different branches of the American armed services, which meant that each force developed its own ICBM program. The Air Force initiated ICBM research in 1945 with the MX-774. However, its funding was cancelled and only three partially successful launches were conducted in 1947. In 1951, the Air Force began a new ICBM program called MX-1593, and by 1955 this program was receiving top-priority funding. The MX-1593 program evolved to become the Atlas-A, with its maiden launch occurring on 11 June 1957, becoming the first successful American ICBM. Its upgraded version, the Atlas-D rocket, would later serve as an operational nuclear ICBM and be used as the orbital launch vehicle for Project Mercury and the remote-controlled Agena Target Vehicle used in Project Gemini.
With the Cold War as an engine for change in the ideological competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, a coherent space policy began to take shape in the United States during the late 1950s. Korolev would take much inspiration from the competition as well, achieving many firsts to counter the possibility that the United States might prevail.
Early Space Race: 1950s
BeginningsIn 1955, with both the United States and the Soviet Union building ballistic missiles that could be utilized to launch objects into space, the "starting line" was drawn for the Space Race. In separate announcements, just four days apart, both nations publicly announced that they would launch artificial Earth satellites by 1957 or 1958. On July 29, 1955, James C. Hagerty, president Dwight D. Eisenhower's press secretary, announced that the United States intended to launch "small Earth circling satellites" between July 1, 1957 and December 31, 1958 as part of their contribution to the International Geophysical Year (IGY). Four days later, at the Sixth Congress of International Astronautical Federation in Copenhagen, scientist Leonid I. Sedov spoke to international reporters at the Soviet embassy, and announced his country's intention to launch a satellite as well, in the "near future". On August 30, 1955, Korolev managed to get the Soviet Academy of Sciences to create a commission whose purpose was to beat the Americans into Earth orbit: this was the de facto start date for the Space Race.
Initially, President Eisenhower was worried that a satellite passing above a nation at over 100 kilometers (62 mi), might be construed as violating that nation's sovereign airspace. He was concerned that the Soviet Union would accuse the Americans of an illegal overflight, thereby scoring a propaganda victory at his expense. Eisenhower and his advisors believed that a nation's airspace sovereignty did not extend into outer space, acknowledged as the Kármán line, and he used the 1957–58 International Geophysical Year launches to establish this principle in international law. Eisenhower also feared that he might cause an international incident and be called a "Warmonger" if he were to use military missiles as launchers. Therefore he selected the untried Naval Research Laboratory's Vanguard rocket, which was a research-only booster. This meant that von Braun's team was not allowed to put a satellite into orbit with their Jupiter-C rocket, because of its intended use as a future military vehicle. On September 20, 1956, von Braun and his team did launch a Jupiter-C that was capable of putting a satellite into orbit, but the launch was used only as a suborbital test of nose cone reentry technology.
First artificial satellites
Korolev received word about von Braun's 1956 Jupiter-C test, but thinking it was a satellite mission that failed, he expedited plans to get his own satellite in orbit. Since his R-7 was substantially more powerful than any of the American boosters, he made sure to take full advantage of this capability by designing Object D as his primary satellite. It was given the designation 'D', to distinguish it from other R-7 payload designations 'A', 'B', 'V', and 'G' which were nuclear weapon payloads. Object D would dwarf the proposed American satellites, by having a weight of 1,400 kilograms (3,100 lb), of which 300 kilograms (660 lb) would be composed of scientific instruments that would photograph the Earth, take readings on radiation levels, and check on the planet's magnetic field. However, things were not going along well with the design and manufacturing of the satellite, so in February 1957, Korolev sought and received permission from the USSR Council of Ministers to create a prosteishy sputnik (PS-1), or simple satellite. The Council also decreed that Object D be postponed until April 1958. The new sputnik was a shiny spherical ball that would be a much lighter craft, weighing 83.8 kilograms (185 lb) and having a 58-centimeter (23 in) diameter.  The satellite would not contain the complex instrumentation that Object D had, but it did have two radio transmitters operating on different short wave radio frequencies, the ability to detect if a meteoroid were to penetrate its pressure hull, and the ability to detect the density of the Earth's thermosphere.
Korolev was buoyed by the first successful launches of his R-7 rocket in August and September, which paved the way for him to launch his sputnik. Word came that the Americans were planning to announce a major breakthrough at an International Geophysical Year conference at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., with a paper entitled "Satellite Over the Planet", on 6 October 1957. Korolev anticipated that von Braun might launch a Jupiter-C with a satellite payload on or around the fourth or fifth of October, in conjunction with the paper. He hastened the launch, moving it to the fourth of October. The launch vehicle for PS-1, was a modified R-7 – vehicle 8K71PS number M1-PS– without much of the test equipment and radio gear that was present in the previous launches. It arrived at the Soviet missile base Tyura-Tam in September and was prepared for its mission at launch site number one. On Friday, October 4, 1957, at exactly 10:28:34 pm Moscow time, the R-7, with the now named Sputnik 1 satellite, lifted off the launch pad, and placed this artificial "moon" into an orbit a few minutes later. This "fellow traveler," as the name is translated in English, was a small, beeping ball, less than two feet in diameter and weighing less than 200 pounds. But the celebrations were muted at the launch control centre until the down-range far east tracking station at Kamchatka received the first distinctive beep ... beep ... beep sounds from Sputnik 1's radio transmitters, indicating that it was on its way to completing its first orbit. About 95 minutes after launch, the satellite flew over its launch site, and its radio signals were picked up by the engineers and military personnel at Tyura-Tam: that's when Korolev and his team celebrated the first successful artificial satellite placed into Earth-orbit.
 The December 6, 1957 Project Vanguard launch failure occurred at Cape Canaveral in front of a live broadcast television audience (it was the first live countdown broadcast nationally) in the United States. It was a monumental failure, exploding a few seconds after launch, and it became an international joke. The satellite appeared in newspapers under the names Flopnik, Stayputnik, Kaputnik, and Dudnik. In the United Nations, the Russian delegate offered the U.S. representative aid "under the Soviet program of technical assistance to backwards nations." Only in the wake of this very public failure did von Braun's Redstone team get the go-ahead to launch their Jupiter-C rocket as soon as they could. In Britain, the USA's Western Cold War ally, the reaction was mixed: some members of the population celebrated the fact that the Soviets had reached space first, while others feared the destructive potential that military uses of space craft might bring.
Nearly four months after the launch of Sputnik 1, von Braun and the United States successfully launched its first satellite, on a modified Redstone booster, under the "civilian" name Juno 1 to differentiate it from the army's Redstone missile. Explorer 1 was the first successful American satellite. It was launched at Cape Canaveral in Florida on January 31, 1958. It was 14.0 kilograms (30.8 lb) in mass and was launched on a four stage Juno 1 vehicle. It carried a micrometeorite gauge and a Geiger-Müller tube. It passed in and out of the Earth-encompassing radiation belt with its 360 km by 2534 km orbit therefore saturating the tube's capacity and proving what Dr. James Van Allen, a space scientist at the University of Iowa, had previously only theorized. It not only confirmed his theory, but also brought him to fame. Said radiation belt is actually now known as the Van Allen radiation belt. This belt consists of a doughnut shaped zone of high-level radiation intensity around the Earth above the magnetic equator. Van Allen was also the man who designed and built the satellite instrumentation of Explorer 1. It was because of the previous failure of the Vanguard rocket of December 1957 that scientist made the decision of using a military rocket allowing the successful launch of the satellite. The satellite actually measured three phenomena. They are cosmic ray and radiation levels, the temperature in the spacecraft and finally the frequency of collisions with micrometeorites. The satellite had no memory for data storage, which meant that it had to transmit continuously. A couple of months later in March 1958, a second satellite was sent into orbit with augmented cosmic ray instrument.
First humans in space On April 12, 1961, the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit around the Earth on Vostok 1. They dubbed Gagarin the first cosmonaut, roughly translated from Russian and Greek as "sailor of the universe". Although he had the ability to take over manual control of his spacecraft in an emergency by opening an envelope he had in the cabin that contained a code that could be typed into the computer, it was flown in an automatic mode as a precaution; medical science at that time did not know what would happen to a human in the weightlessness of space. Vostok 1 orbited the Earth for 108 minutes and made its reentry over the Soviet Union, with Gagarin ejecting from the spacecraft at 7,000 meters (23,000 ft), and landing by parachute. Under Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (International Federation of Aeronautics) FAI qualifying rules for aeronautical records, pilots must both take off and land with their craft, so the Soviet Union kept the landing procedures secret until 1978, when they finally admitted that Gagarin did not land with his spacecraft.
The United States called their space travelers astronauts ("star sailors" from the Greek), and it was 3 weeks later, on May 5, 1961, when Alan Shepard became the first American in space, launched on a suborbital mission Mercury-Redstone 3, in a spacecraft named Freedom 7. Unlike Gagarin - he did not achieve orbit, but was the first person to exercise manual control over his spacecraft's attitude and retro-rocket firing. The first Soviet cosmonaut to exercise manual control was Gherman Titov in Vostok 2 on 6 August 1961.
Almost a year after the Soviet Union put a human into orbit, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, on February 20, 1962. His Mercury-Atlas 6 mission completed three orbits in the Friendship 7 spacecraft, and splashed-down safely in the Atlantic Ocean, after a tense reentry, due to what falsely appeared from the telemetry data to be a loose heat-shield.
Kennedy directs the race toward the Moon
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Until this time, Kennedy's support for sending an American to the Moon was not a foregone conclusion. Jerome Wiesner of MIT, who served as a science advisor to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and himself an opponent of manned space exploration, remarked, "If Kennedy could have opted out of a big space program without hurting the country in his judgement, he would have."  In March 1961, when NASA administrator James E. Webb submitted a budget request to fund a Moon landing before 1970, Kennedy rejected it because it was simply too expensive.  Some were surprised by his eventual support of NASA and the space program because of how often he had attacked the Eisenhower administration's inefficiency during the election.
Kennedy ultimately decided to pursue what became the the Apollo program, and on May 25 asked for Congressional support in an address to a special joint session: "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." He justified the program in terms of its importance to national security, and its focus of the nation's energies on other scientific and social fields. He rallied popular support for the program in his "We choose to go to the Moon" speech, on 12 September 1962, before a large crowd at Rice University Stadium, in Houston, Texas, near the construction site of the new Manned Spacecraft Center facility.
Khrushchev responded to Kennedy's implicit challenge with silence, refusing to publicly confirm or deny the Soviets were pursuing a "Moon race". However, as would later be disclosed, they pursued such a program in secret over the next nine years.
Completion of Vostok and Mercury programs
VostokVostok 3 and Vostok 4, in essentially identical orbits, on August 11 and 12, 1962. The two spacecraft came within approximately 6.5 kilometers (4.0 mi) of one another, close enough for radio communication. Vostok 4 also set a record of nearly four days in space. Though the two craft's orbits were as nearly identical as possible given the accuracy of the launch rocket's guidance system, slight variations still existed which drew the two craft at first as close to each other as 6.5 kilometers (3.5 nmi), then as far apart as 2,850 kilometers (1,770 mi). There were no maneuvering rockets on the Vostok to permit space rendezvous, required to keep the two craft a controlled distance apart.
The Soviet Union duplicated its dual-launch feat with Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 (June 16, 1963). This time they launched the first woman (also the first civilian), Valentina Tereshkova, into space on Vostok 6. Launching a woman was reportedly Korolev's idea, and it was accomplished purely for propaganda value. Tereshkova was one of a small corps of female cosmonauts who were amateur parachutists, but Tereshkova was the only one to fly. The USSR didn't again open its cosmonaut corps to women until 1980, two years after the United States opened its astronaut corps to women.
MercuryMeanwhile, the United States launched three more Mercury flights after Glenn's: Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962 duplicated Glenn's three orbits; Sigma 7 on October 3, 1962, six orbits; and Faith 7 on May 15, 1963, 22 orbits (32.4 hours), the maximum capability of the spacecraft. NASA at first intended to launch one more mission, extending the spacecraft's endurance to three days, but since this would not beat the Soviet record, it was decided instead to concentrate on developing Project Gemini.
Kennedy proposes a joint US-USSR programOn September 20, 1963, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Kennedy proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union join forces in their efforts to reach the Moon. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev initially rejected Kennedy's proposal; however, during the next few weeks he concluded that both nations might realize cost benefits and technological gains from a joint venture. Khrushchev was poised to accept Kennedy's proposal at the time of Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.
On October 2, 1997, it was reported that Khrushchev's son Sergei claimed Khrushchev had decided to accept Kennedy's offer, based on a measure of rapport during their years as leaders of the world's two superpowers, but changed his mind and dropped the idea after Kennedy's November 1963 assassination since he did not have the same trust for Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson.
Gemini and VoskhodFocused by the commitment to a Moon landing, in January 1962 the US announced Project Gemini, a two-man spacecraft that would support the later three-man Apollo by developing the key spaceflight technologies of space rendezvous and docking of two craft, flight durations of sufficient length to simulate going to the Moon and back, and extra-vehicular activity to accomplish useful work outside the spacecraft.
Meanwhile, Korolev had planned further, long-term missions for the Vostok spacecraft, and had four Vostoks in various stages of fabrication in late 1963 at his OKB-1 facilities. At that time, the Americans announced their ambitious plans for the Project Gemini flight schedule. These plans included major advancements in spacecraft capabilities, including a two-person spacecraft, the ability to change orbits, the capacity to perform an extravehicular activity (EVA), and the goal of docking with another spacecraft. These represented major advances over the previous Mercury or Vostok spaceships, and Korolev felt the need to try to beat the Americans to many of these innovations. Korolev already had begun designing the Vostok's replacement, the next-generation Soyuz spacecraft, a multi-cosmonaut spacecraft that had at least the same capabilities as the Gemini spacecraft. However, Soyuz would not be available for at least three years, and it could not be called upon to deal with this new American challenge in 1964 or 1965. Political pressure in early 1964–which some sources claim was from Khrushchev while other sources claim was from other Communist Party officials—pushed him to modify his four remaining Vostoks to beat the Americans to new space firsts in the size of flight crews, and the duration of missions.
Main article: Voskhod programmeGemini took a year longer than planned to accomplish its first flight, allowing the Soviets to achieve another first, launching Voskhod 1 on October 12, 1964, the first spacecraft with a three-cosmonaut crew. The USSR touted another technological achievement during this mission: it was the first space flight during which cosmonauts performed in a shirt-sleeve-environment. However, flying without spacesuits was not due to safety improvements in the Soviet spacecraft's environmental systems; rather this innovation was accomplished because the craft's limited cabin space did not allow for spacesuits. Flying without spacesuits exposed the cosmonauts to significant risk in the event of potentially fatal cabin depressurization. This feat would not be repeated until the US Apollo Command Module flew in 1968; this later mission was designed from the outset to safely transport three astronauts in a shirt-sleeve environment while in space.
Between October 14–16, 1964, Leonid Brezhnev and a small cadre of high-ranking Communist Party officials, deposed Premier Khrushchev as Soviet government leader a day after Voskhod 1 landed, in what was called the "Wednesday conspiracy". The new political leaders, along with Korolev, ended the technologically troublesome Voskhod program, cancelling Voskhod 3 and 4, which were in the planning stages, and started concentrating on the race to the Moon. Voskhod 2 would end up being Korolev's final achievement before his death, as it would become the last of the many space firsts that demonstrated the USSR's domination in spacecraft technology during the early 1960s. According to historian Asif Siddiqi, Korolev's accomplishments marked "the absolute zenith of the Soviet space program, one never, ever attained since." There would be a two-year pause in Soviet piloted space flights while Voskhod's replacement, the Soyuz spacecraft, was designed and developed.
On March 18, 1965, about a week before the first American piloted Project Gemini space flight, the USSR accelerated the Space Race competition, by launching the two-cosmonaut Voskhod 2 mission with Pavel Belyayev and Alexey Leonov. Voskhod 2's design modifications included the first airlock to allow for extravehicular activity (EVA), also known as a spacewalk. Leonov performed the first-ever EVA as part of the mission. A fatality was narrowly avoided when Leonov's spacesuit expanded in the vacuum of space, preventing him from re-entering the spacecraft. He had to improvise, and perform the potentially fatal partial depressurization of his spacesuit in order to re-enter the airlock. He succeeded in safely re-entering the ship, but he and Belyayev faced further challenges when the spacecraft's atmospheric controls flooded the cabin with 45% pure oxygen, which had to be lowered to acceptable levels before re-entry. The reentry involved two more challenges: an improperly timed retrorocket firing caused the Voskhod 2 to land 386 kilometers (240 mi) off its designated target area, the town of Perm; and the instrument compartment's failure to detach from the descent apparatus caused the spacecraft to become unstable during reentry.
Main article: Project Gemini
- On Gemini 3 (March 1965), astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John W. Young became the first to demonstrate their ability to change their craft's orbit.
- On Gemini 5 (August 1965), astronauts L. Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad set a record of almost eight days in space, long enough for a piloted lunar mission.
- On Gemini 6A (December 1965), Command Pilot Wally Schirra achieved the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7, accurately matching his orbit to that of the other craft, station-keeping for three consecutive orbits at distances as close as 1 foot (0.30 m).
- Gemini 7 also set a human spaceflight endurance record of fourteen days for Frank Borman and James A. Lovell, which stood until both nations started launching space laboratories in the early 1970s.
- On Gemini 8 (March 1966), Command Pilot Neil Armstrong achieved the first docking between two spacecraft, his Gemini craft and an Agena target vehicle.
- Gemini 11 (September 1966), commanded by Conrad, achieved the first direct-ascent rendezvous with its Agena target on the first orbit, and used the Agena's rocket to achieve an apogee of 742 nautical miles (1,374 km), the manned Earth orbit record still current as of 3 November 2014 T 01:21 (UTC).
- On Gemini 12 (November 1966), Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin spent over five hours working comfortably during three (EVA) sessions, finally proving that humans could perform productive tasks outside their spacecraft. (This proved to be the most difficult goal to achieve.)
Soviet Moon program
Main article: Soviet manned lunar programs
The circumlunar missions were to be launched by a UR-500 rocket, later known as the Proton. The cosmonauts would be flown to the Moon in the Soyuz 7K-L1 (Zond), which made four unsuccessful unmanned flights between 1967 and 1970. One flight of the Zond was, however, successful and returned its non-human passengers (tortoises) to Earth; had it been used for a manned circumlunar mission, the flight would have carried two cosmonauts.
The Soviet lunar landing missions would use spacecraft derived from the Soyuz 7K-L1. The orbital module (Soyuz 7K-L3), the "Lunniy Orbitalny Korabl" (LOK), had a crew of two. The LOK and a separate lunar lander, the "Lunniy Korabl" (LK), had 40% of the mass of the Apollo CSM/LM due to the launch vehicle's capabilities.
The launch vehicle would have been the N1 rocket, which was roughly the same height and takeoff mass as the American Saturn V, exceeded its takeoff thrust by 28%, and yet had roughly half the TLI payload capability. The N1 was unsuccessfully tested four times, exploding each time due to problems with the first stage's thirty engines.
The Soviet leadership cancelled the program in 1970 after the first two successful American Moon landings.
Outer space treatyThe US and USSR began discussions on the peaceful uses of space as early as 1958, presenting issues for debate to the United Nations, which created a Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 1959. This led to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which was signed by the United States, USSR, and the United Kingdom on January 27, 1967 and went into force the following October 10.
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- bars party States from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, on the Moon, or any other celestial body;
- exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes, and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications;
- declares that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all the States;
- explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind, "not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". However, the State that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object;
- holds any State liable for damages caused by their space object;
- declares that "the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty", and "States Parties shall bear international responsibility for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities"; and
- "A State Party to the Treaty which has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by another State Party in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, may request consultation concerning the activity or experiment."
Disaster strikes both sidesIn 1967, both nations faced serious challenges that brought their programs to temporary halts. Both had been rushing at full-speed toward the first piloted flights of Apollo and Soyuz, without paying due diligence to growing design and manufacturing problems. The results proved fatal to both pioneering crews.
On January 27, 1967, the same day the US and USSR signed the Outer Space Treaty, the crew of the first manned Apollo mission, Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White, and Pilot Roger Chaffee, were killed in a fire that swept through their spacecraft cabin during a ground test, less than a month before the planned February 21 launch. An investigative board determined the fire was probably caused by an electrical spark, and quickly grew out of control, fed by the spacecraft's pure oxygen atmosphere. Crew escape was made impossible by inability to open the plug door hatch cover against the greater-than-atmospheric internal pressure. The board also found design and construction flaws in the spacecraft, and procedural failings, including failure to appreciate the hazard of the pure-oxygen atmosphere, as well as inadequate safety procedures. All these flaws had to be corrected over the next twenty-two months until the first piloted flight could be made. Mercury and Gemini veteran Grissom had been a favored choice of Deke Slayton, NASA's Director of Flight Crew Operations, to make the first piloted landing.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was having its own problems with Soyuz development. Engineers reported 200 design faults to party leaders, but their concerns "were overruled by political pressures for a series of space feats to mark the anniversary of Lenin's birthday." On April 24, 1967, the single pilot of Soyuz 1, Vladimir Komarov, bacame the first in-flight spaceflight fatality. The mission was planned to be a three-day test, to include the first Soviet docking with an unpiloted Soyuz 2, but the mission was plagued with problems. Early on, Komarov's craft lacked sufficient electrical power because only one of two solar panels had deployed. Then the automatic attitude control system began malfunctioning and eventually failed completely, resulting in the craft spinning wildly. Komarov was able to stop the spin with the manual system, which was only partially effective. The flight controllers aborted his mission after only one day. During the emergency re-entry, a fault in the landing parachute system caused the primary chutes to fail, and the reserve chutes tangled together; Komarov was killed on impact. Fixing the spacecraft faults caused an eighteen-month delay before piloted Soyuz flights could resume.
To the MoonThe United States recovered from the Apollo 1 fire, fixing the fatal flaws in an improved version of the Block II command module. The US proceeded with unpiloted test launches of the Saturn V launch vehicle (Apollo 4 and Apollo 6) and the Lunar Module (Apollo 5) during the latter-half of 1967 and early 1968. Apollo 1's mission to check out the Apollo Command/Service Module in Earth orbit was accomplished by Grissom's backup crew commanded by Walter Schirra on Apollo 7, launched on October 11, 1968. The eleven-day mission was a total success, as the spacecraft performed a virtually flawless mission, paving the way for the United States to continue with its lunar mission schedule.
The Soviet Union also fixed the parachute and control problems with Soyuz, and the next piloted mission Soyuz 3 was launched on October 26, 1968. The goal was to complete Komarov's rendezvous and docking mission with the un-piloted Soyuz 2. Ground controllers brought the two craft to within 200 meters (660 ft) of each other, then cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoy took control. He got within 40 meters (130 ft) of his target, but was unable to dock before expending 90 percent of his maneuvering fuel, due to a piloting error that put his spacecraft into the wrong orientation and forced Soyuz 2 to automatically turn away from his approaching craft.
The Soviet Zond spacecraft was almost ready for piloted circumlunar missions in 1968, although testing was not yet complete. At the time, the Soyuz 7K-L1/Zond spacecraft was not yet ready for piloted missions after five unsuccessful and partially successful automated test launches: Cosmos 146 on March 10, 1967; Cosmos 154 on April 8, 1967; Zond 1967A September 27, 1967; Zond 1967B on November 22, 1967. Zond 4 was launched on March 2, 1968, and successfully made a circumlunar flight. After its successful flight around the Moon, Zond 4 encountered problems with its Earth reentry on March 9, and was ordered destroyed by an explosive charge 15,000 meters (49,000 ft) over the Gulf of Guinea. The Soviet official announcement said that Zond 4 was an automated test flight which ended with its intentional destruction, due to its recovery trajectory positioning it over the Atlantic Ocean instead of over the USSR.
Apollo 8 into lunar orbit without the LM in December on a new 'C-prime' mission. This mission was in part motivated by intelligence rumors the Soviet Union might fly a piloted circumlunar Zond flight during late 1968. In September 1968, Zond 5, a Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft, with tortoises on board, made a circumlunar flight and returned to Earth, accomplishing the first successful splashdown of the Soviet space program, in the Indian Ocean. It also scared NASA planners, as it took them several days to figure out that it was only an automated flight, not a piloted flight with cosmonauts, because voice recordings were transmitted from the craft en route to the Moon. On November 10, 1968 another automated test flight of the 7K-L1 spacecraft – Zond 6 – was launched, but this time, it encountered difficulties in its Earth reentry, and depressurized and deployed its parachute too early, causing it to crash-land only 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) from where it had been launched six days earlier.
Apollo 8 launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first human-crewed spacecraft to leave low-Earth orbit and go to another celestial body, the Moon. On December 24 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders became the first humans to enter into orbit around the Moon. They orbited ten times, and transmitted one of the most watched TV broadcasts in history, with their Christmas Eve program from lunar orbit, that concluded with a reading from the King James Bible's Book of Genesis. A few hours later, the crew performed the first-ever Trans-Earth injection (TEI) burn, to blast the Apollo 8 spacecraft out of lunar orbit and on to a trajectory back to the Earth. Just over two days later, on December 27, Apollo 8 safely splashed down in the Pacific, completing another first: NASA's first dawn splashdown and recovery.
It turned out there was no chance of a piloted Soviet circumlunar flight during 1968, due to the unreliability of the Zonds. After the successive launch failures of the N1 rocket in 1969, Soviet plans for a piloted landing suffered first delay and ultimately cancellation. The launch pad explosion of the N-1 on July 3, 1969 was a significant setback. The rocket hit the pad after an engine shutdown, destroying itself and the launch facility.
Main article: Apollo 11 Unbeknownst to the Americans, the Soviet Moon program was in deep trouble. Without the N-1 rocket, the USSR had no way to land on the Moon. The next two Apollo missions proved that the Lunar Module worked well, both in low-Earth orbit and in lunar orbit. It was time to proceed to an actual landing mission. Under this backdrop, Apollo 11 was being prepared for a July encounter with the Moon.
The Apollo 11 crew consisted of commander (CDR) Neil Armstrong, command module pilot (CMP) Michael Collins, and lunar module pilot (LMP) Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. They were selected as the crew in January 1969, and they trained for the mission until just before the actual launch day. On July 16, 1969, at exactly 9:32 am EDT, the Saturn V rocket – serial number SA-506 – lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with Apollo 11 on board.
The lunar trip took just over three days. After achieving orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin transferred into the Lunar Module, named Eagle, and began their descent. After overcoming several computer malfunctions, Armstrong took over manual flight-control at about 180 meters (590 ft), and guided the Lunar Module to a landing on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility at 4:17 pm EDT, July 20, 1969. The first humans on the Moon would wait another six hours before they ventured out of their craft. At 10:56:15 pm EDT, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon.
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
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Apollo 11 safely left lunar orbit and returned to Earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969. When the spacecraft splashed down, 2,982 days had passed since Kennedy committed the United States to landing a man on the Moon and bringing him back safely to the Earth before the end of the decade; the mission was completed with just 161 days to spare. With the safe completion of the Apollo 11 mission, the Americans won the race to the Moon.
This was followed by successful lunar landings on Apollo 12 (November 1969), Apollo 14 (February 1971), Apollo 15 (July 1971), Apollo 16 (April 1972), and Apollo 17 (December 1972). One lunar landing attempt, Apollo 13 (April 1970), was aborted due to an explosion of one of the on-board oxygen tanks, but the crew returned safely after looping around the Moon.
The 1970sMars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond, as well as launching Skylab, an orbital space station. Together, the US and Soviet conducted an orbital rendezvous by manned spacecraft in 1975. By the end of the 1970s, both were working on Space Shuttles and launching science missions at a fever pitch.
Salyuts and SkylabHaving lost the race to the Moon, the USSR decided to concentrate on orbital space stations. During 1969 and 1970, they launched six more Soyuz flights after Soyuz 3, then launched the first space station, the Salyut 1 laboratory designed by Kerim Kerimov, on April 19, 1971. Three days later, the Soyuz 10 crew attempted to dock with it, but failed to achieve a secure enough connection to safely enter the station. The Soyuz 11 crew of Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev successfully docked on June 7, and completed a record 22-day stay. The crew became the second in-flight space fatality during their reentry on June 30. They were asphyxiated when their spacecraft's cabin lost all pressure, shortly after undocking. The disaster was blamed on a faulty cabin pressure valve, that allowed all the air to vent into space. The crew was not wearing pressure suits and had no chance of survival once the leak occurred.
Salyut 1's orbit was increased to prevent premature reentry, but further piloted flights were delayed while the Soyuz was redesigned to fix the new safety problem. The station re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on October 11, after 175 days in orbit. The USSR attempted to launch a second Salyut-class station designated Durable Orbital Station-2 (DOS-2) on July 29, 1972, but a rocket failure caused it to fail to achieve orbit. After the DOS-2 failure, the USSR attempted to launch four more Salyut-class stations through 1975, with another failure due to an explosion of the final rocket stage, which punctured the station with shrapnel so that it wouldn't hold pressure. While all of the Salyuts were presented to the public as non-military scientific laboratories, some of them were actually covers for the military Almaz reconnaissance stations.
The United States also had plans to launch a piloted space laboratory as part of the Apollo Applications Program, using Apollo hardware. The original plans called for constructing the space laboratory using a spent Saturn S-IVB rocket stage (used to launch the Apollo craft into Earth orbit), however the space laboratory was ultimately pre-fabricated on Earth and launched by the modified first two stages of the Saturn V lunar launch vehicle, known as the Saturn INT-21. The orbital workstation Skylab, weighed 169,950 pounds (77,090 kg), was 58 feet (18 m) long by 21.7 feet (6.6 m) in diameter, with a habitable volume of 10,000 cubic feet (280 m3). Skylab 1, the mission to actually launch the space station, was launched on May 14, 1973, but was damaged during the flight, losing one of its solar panels and a meteoroid thermal shield. Subsequent human-crewed missions repaired the station, and the final mission's crew, Skylab 4, set the Space Race endurance record with 84 days in orbit, when the mission ended on February 8, 1974. Skylab stayed in orbit another five years before reentering the Earth's atmosphere over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia on July 11, 1979.
Apollo–Soyuz Test MissionRichard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev negotiated an easing of relations known as detente, creating a temporary "thaw" in the Cold War. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, the time seemed right for cooperation rather than competition, and the notion of a continuing "race" began to subside.
The two nations planned a joint mission to dock the last US Apollo craft with a Soyuz, known as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). To prepare, the US designed a docking module for the Apollo that was compatible with the Soviet docking system, which allowed any of their craft to dock with any other (e.g. Soyuz/Soyuz as well as Soyuz/Salyut). The module was also necessary as an airlock to allow the men to visit each other's craft, which had incompatible cabin atmospheres. The USSR used the Soyuz 16 mission in December 1974 to prepare for ASTP.
The joint mission began when Soyuz 19 was first launched on July 15, 1975 at 12:20 UTC, and the Apollo craft was launched with the docking module six and a half hours later. The two craft rendezvoused and docked on July 17 at 16:19 UTC. The three astronauts conducted joint experiments with the two cosmonauts, and the crew shook hands, exchanged gifts, and visited each other's craft.
Human spaceflight after ApolloIn the 1970s, the United States began developing a new generation of reusable orbital spacecraft known as the Space Shuttle, and launched a range of unmanned probes. The USSR continued to develop space station technology with the Salyut program and Mir ('Peace' or 'World', depending on the context) space station, supported by Soyuz spacecraft. They developed their own large space shuttle under the Buran program. However, the USSR dissolved in 1991 and the remains of its space program were distributed to various Eastern European countries. The United States and Russia would work together in space with the Shuttle–Mir Program, and again with the International Space Station.
The Russian R-7 rocket family, which launched the first Sputnik at the beginning of the space race, is still in use today. It services the International Space Station (ISS) as the launcher for both the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. It also ferries both Russian and American crews to and from the station.
Advances in technology and educationAmerican concerns that they had fallen behind the Soviet Union in the race to space led quickly to a push by legislators and educators for greater emphasis on mathematics and 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 and a direct consequence of the Space Race.
The scientists educated through these efforts helped develop technologies that have been adapted for use in the kitchen, in transportation systems, in athletics, and in many other areas of modern life. Dried fruits and ready-to-eat foods (in particular food sterilization and package sealing techniques), stay-dry clothing, and even no-fog ski goggles have their roots in space science.
remote sensing of data on weather, vegetation, and human movements for the nations who employ them. In addition, much of the micro-technology that fuels everyday activities, from time-keeping to enjoying music, derives from research initially driven by the Space Race.