The Cold War began after the Second World War. The United States and Russia had suffered losses but had been the winners. Fascism and Hitler had lost, and Capitalism and Communism remained and looked to fight it out with superweapons. The result was a buildup of arms and heavy investment in new technology, and by 1958, the US had sent up their first military satellites into orbit. On May 25, 1962President Kennedy announced his goal to Americans, Russians, and the world that America would aim to land a man on the moon by 1970. The launch of Sputnik 1 on October 1, 1958, however, demonstrated Soviet scientific prowess and gave them a head start in what became known as the Space Race.
The arms buildup began after World War II with a nuclear competition between the US and the Soviet Union. Military strategy concerning nuclear missiles became of upmost importance as well as national security from such threats. The Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 was so important because it demonstrated Soviet capability to hit a target anywhere in the world. The space race became a new dimension of the arms race, as America started launching military satellites in 1958 to make up for their late start.
Last October’s anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik artificial
satellite has led to much discussion as to who won the space race.
Usually it is argued that the United States unproblematically “won.” But
this is a very simplistic picture and one that should be challenged.
Above all, the focus on nations “winning” or “losing” needs to be re-
jected. It is the rich and powerful who are doing the winning. And they
can come from any country.
The conventional account says that the Soviet Union had an early
lead but the United States eventually “won.” In 1961 Yuri Gagarin made
a single orbit around the earth and in 1963 the Soviets launched two
more cosmonauts: Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space) and
Valeri Bykovsky. But spurred on by these...