Cold War and the Conquest Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

They could do it time and time again with success. The first electric car was used on the moon during the Apollo 14 (Endeavor and Falcon) mission (Kennedy Space Center).

Meanwhile in Russia

While the space program in the United States was busy becoming a popular culture icon, the Russian space program took on a different personality. They still launched missions for "national prestige" (Wade). However, the majority of Soviet missions were for military purposes. The Soviet economy played a major role in space efforts. The soviet economy was planned in five-year increments, with long-range military plans being made for the next ten years (Wade). This significantly affected the pace of space program development. The Russian space plan was slow to react to American successes.

First generation Soviet launchers had poor reliability. The ten-year plan for the second generation was not approved until 1976 (Wade). Third generation plans were approved in 1981, but were revised in reaction to the American "Star Wars" program in 1985 (Wade). Many of the programs under Gorbachev were never implemented (Wade). Government inefficiency was a key hindrance in the Russian space program and a central reason why it never really got off of the ground.

Another key reason for failure was that the Soviets had lofty plans, and many of them. From 1950 to 1960, chief designers proposed plans for probes to the moon, Mars, Venus, space battle stations, and combat space vehicles in earth's orbit (Wade). First generation systems served as prototypes for second generation systems. First generation systems were developed from 1960 to 1975). Second generation systems were developed from 1970 to 1985) (Wade). First generation systems were never intended to get off the ground, just give them practice for second generation systems. The first flight trials were not conducted until the late 1970s (Wade).

Third generation systems were under development from 1985 to 1990. However, the program disintegrated before the systems were in place. The fall of the Soviet Union was also the fall of the Soviet space program (Wade). It appeared that the race for space was won, at least for the time being. The Apollo missions secured the U.S. As the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

This position gave the impression that the U.S. was an unconquerable force, with superior technology. The goal was to help advance their position in the cold war by psyching the other side into the conclusion that if they could put a man on the moon, they must also have superior weapons technology as well. This was the underlying premise that lay at the root of the quest to conquer space.

Russian and U.S. space program development strategies differed in the manner in their basic philosophies. The Russians had many projects under development at the same time, but it appears that their resources were spread out as well. The U.S. space program picked one goal and poured all of its resources into the project in a concentrated manner. The U.S. space program had a man on the moon within ten years. The Russian plan only had a budget and a few prototypes by then. The Russian program concentrated on military advantage. While the U.S. space program concentrated on business opportunity and the achievement of a reputation for advanced technology. This represented the quest for a psychological advantage over a military one.

The greatest benefit of the space race was the technology that it provided to the world. By the early 1970s, orbiting communication and navigation satellites were common. The Mariner spacecraft began mapping Mars and the Voyager provided earthlings a spectacular view of Jupiter and Saturn (Aerospace). Satellites became an important part of business and everyday, people became accustomed to the lightening communication speed that satellites provided. Earthlings were used to radio waves and television broadcasts by now, but these methods of communication were hindered by line of sight and the curvature of the earth. Satellite eliminated these technical problems and allowed the advancement of global communications.

Fulfilling the promise of putting a man on the moon and bringing him back safely gave the United States a technological edge that remained unchallenged until recently. America and the world benefited from the computer advancements, engineering advancements and communication advancements that arose from this spectacular feat. The world owed the United States gratitude for the gifts of the lunar missions. It seemed, at least for the time being, that the cold war was over and the U.S. was the decided winner.

Since these early days of the U.S. lunar mission, several other countries have followed suit. The United States is not the only one to have its footprint in the dusty lunar surface. Since the U.S. mission, Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan, China, and now, India have sent missions to the moon ( The Chinese had a late start into the quest for space, beginning in earnest in the early 1970s. Political turmoil halted the program and hindered its advance. However, a recent testimony before the U.S. Senate indicates that if China is able to succeed with its ambitious plans, it could be the start of an entirely new space race, one in which the U.S. And Russia are behind (Oberg). However, the Chinese space program borrowed much of its technology from Russian and the U.S., a fact that it does not deny (Oberg). The Chinese program is a source of national pride.

India's mission will have a different goal from other lunar missions. Its intention is to map the lunar landscape to provide information for future missions ( The mission is currently slated for two years and will provide a three-dimensional map of the moon. The Indian Lunar module is carrying payloads from the U.S., EU, Germany, Britain, Sweden, and Bulgaria ( The purpose of this mission will be to provide a better understanding of the moon than we had on previous missions. This is the next logical step in space exploration. The U.S. And the Soviet Union were the dominant forces in lunar missions in the early days, but this is no longer true. The new focus is on cooperative efforts between the nations. Lunar exploration has lost much of its competitive edge and not represents a more cooperative effort. The U.S. And the Soviet Union are no longer the clear leaders in space exploration.

Where Do We Go from Here?

After the United States landed on the moon, others tried to follow. NASA went on several other quests for space superiority, including the development of the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Telescope. They took place in the International Space station project, but nothing has generated the national frenzy and excitement of the moon landing. It seemed to just stop with the act of getting there.

The moon holds many possibilities for future projects. Some analysts feel that we have only just begun to realize the potential that the moon has to offer. In the future, to simply return will not be enough. The moon represents one of the most lucrative pieces of real estate for 21st century businesses, providing numerous potential streams of income (David). The moon is seen as the first step towards the colonization of Mars (David). The moon holds promise for the travel and tourism industry, mining, and many other fields (David). The moon has already received the cremated remains of noted space geologist Eugene Shoemaker (David). Perhaps in the future, the moon would make a suitable final resting place for many.

These ideas are so real, that some are considering practical considerations in space travel, such as taxation and legislative challenges (Hudgins, p. 195). In Space: The Free-Market Frontier, Hudgins examines space exploration from a business and marketing perspective. The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research considers the military use of space to be an immediate, rather than distant concern for the future security of the plant (UNDIR, 14). Their analysis contains preliminary discussions regarding the disposition of space debris, launch notifications, verification procedures, and problems with commercially crowded orbits (UNDIR, p. 14). These discussions highlight the future of the space program.

Aside from the cash potential, the moon holds promise in the ability to track and destroy potentially damaging near-Earth objects (David). Speculators feel that the United States should take the lead on these projects. Recently, NASA has provided an indication that they may wish to reconnect with the moon and its potential (David). Recent efforts have placed importance on visiting Mars, but many feel that this is not realistic and that the moon is a more reasonable target (David). The book, Space Technology, by Joseph Angelo outlines some of these mid-term to distant projects in a fashion that makes them more than a mere possibility in the future. We have come a long way, and it is no longer difficult to imagine these projects becoming a reality in the not so distant future.

The U.S. has successfully been to the moon several times and has accomplished many space shuttle missions. However, one trip hardly…

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