Historiographical Essay

Historiographical Essay - A Historical Recounting of the...

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A Historical Recounting of the Reaction towards Sputnik World War II left the United States and Russia as the two major world powers, and not coincidentally also as intense enemies. During the Cold War, there was extreme tension and animosity between Russia and the United States. Through the great sense of nationalism gained from their victory in World War II, the American public considered itself as the one supreme power in the world. They did not want any country, especially Russia, encroach on this claim. The launching of Sputnik I on October 4, 1957 followed by Sputnik II on November 3, 1957 by the Russians into space questioned American world supremacy. The American people were shocked by Sputnik I. The reaction to Sputnik I resulted in a fear for national security, which American society had not had since World War II. The American government was also caught off guard by the sudden launch. The government, under President Dwight Eisenhower, quickly developed the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (NASA), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The US government assumed that potential Russian supremacy in space not only could become a direct military threat towards American national security, but that it would undermine the prestige and leadership the United States held throughout the world. The United States feared that continued Russian dominance in space over the Free World would result in a newfound admiration towards the Soviet Union and, perhaps, the spread of communism.
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Sputnik I led to the United States allocating funds and research towards their space program, which would ultimately result in the race for the moon. During the past fifty years since the successful launch of Sputnik I and II, many historians and scientist have investigated the initial reaction towards the satellite and its significance in kick-starting the space program in the United States and in the world. In 1983 the Smithsonian Institute released the book The First 25 Years in Space containing a group of essays by multiple scientists and professors examining and evaluating the first twenty-five years in space. Throughout the essays in the book, the authors express how
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course HIST 387 taught by Professor Kinzer during the Fall '07 term at Kenyon.

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Historiographical Essay - A Historical Recounting of the...

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