The Space Race: Usa Vs Ussr

3776 words - 15 pages

The Space Race was a war of firsts between the United States of America and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics. But it was also the culmination of the dreams of man for many millennia and the team who worked on the space programs were able to discover what so many of the people that came before and after them could only dream of. It was an endeavor that all of humanity was invested in at the time. It was a testament to the power of the human spirit and it showed how nothing was impossible if we persevered and strived to be better.

The space race did not start as one would expect with the respective American and Soviet space agencies. But rather it began with the German V2 missile launches towards the end of World War 2. The V2 missile was designed by Wernher Von Braun a German scientist who had dreamed of traveling to the moon for many years; however this dream had to be secret as it was considered to be treasonous and not helpful to the German cause. Von Braun and many other amateur rocketeers were drafted into the German war machine in order to help build a super weapon and their base was Peenemünde. When the war was nearing its end the Third Reich unleashed its secret weapon, the V2 missile. It could hit anywhere within its target range and there would be no warning. When it hit, it caused scenes of mass destruction. The V2 missiles were to be Hitler’s ace in the hole. However by then it was far too late the war had already been lost with Soviets advancing from the East and the other Allies from the west and when the Allies discovered the German’s V2 missile they knew that they would have to have it as it was decades further than what they had on their own. So when truce was declared it was a race between the Americans and the Soviets to capture the German scientists and all the secrets to their missile technology.

The Germans at Peenemünde were preparing for Germany's inevitable defeat in the war by creating an escape plan. Von Braun the leader of the scientists had discussed with the other chief designers about the possibility of surrendering to the Americans. Cadbury states that the German scientists decided that the best solution would be to go to the Americans because they had the capabilities of creating a functional space program (14). In order to achieve this they would have to be very careful not to get caught because if they were it would be considered treason and they would be executed by the government. A few months before the war ended the entire V2 experimental team and their research made the move from Peenemünde to Mittelwerk which was the production base for the V2 missile which was made with slave labor. At Mittelwerk the German scientists were “guarded” by the SS who had orders to shoot them rather than let them fall into enemy hands. The German scientists meanwhile made plans for their getaway by buying an abandoned mine in order to store the years of research that they had gained and also turned their guards away...

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