The Missile and Space Race

The Missile and Space Race

The Missile and Space Race

The Missile and Space Race

Synopsis

Here is a history of the development of military missiles and space travel from World War II to the American visits to the Moon in 1969-1972. It stresses the relationship between the early stages of space exploration and the arms race, and that a dual path led to space flight. One was the development of unmanned long-range war rockets, the other, less often noted, was the rocket-powered research plane. The first path led through the intercontinental ballistic missile to the first artificial satellites and space capsule; the latter, more uniquely American, through the X-series and Skyrocket rocket planes to the X-15, and ultimately to the Space Shuttle. The early part of the book focuses on the Soviet-American race to develop the ICBM in the 1950s, and the first satellites, with particular attention paid to the events and reactions that followed the flight of Sputnik I in 1957 and the subsequent missile gap era.

Excerpt

On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy declared, "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 earth."

That goal was achieved; and it is of interest not just as humanity's first venture to another world, but as one of the few national goals the United States accomplished after the 1950s. This book deals with the events that led up to and accompanied the decision to go to the moon; the events that followed; and the interplay between the development of space travel, the Cold War missile race, and the international politics of the quarter of a century following World War II. However deplorable many may find it, the first steps in space travel were a product or byproduct of the Cold War and the arms race. This is not to say that mankind would not have reached space sometime or other, for purely peaceful reasons; but space travel began when it did, and how it did, as part of a great world conflict. Most of the rockets that made it possible were either modified military missiles or used engines that stemmed ultimately from military programs, and particularly from the intercontinental ballistic missiles whose development was a central and critical event of the Cold War. The development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), by the Soviets and Americans, and its impact on the Cold War struggle, is a principal theme of this book; it is an exciting story that has been dealt with by a handful of outstanding specialists, such as Edmund Beard and Jacob Neufeld, but whose full interest and impact has not been properly appreciated. With the victory of the Western powers in the Cold War, there may be a tendency . . .

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