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The Space Rac8 - and unexpectedly high atmospheric drag...

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The Space Race Space Stations While the Americans won the Moon race, the Soviets eventually proved more successful in the business of space station building. The first Soviet space station, Salyut ("Salute") 1, was launched in 1971, and suffered many teething problems: the first crew to go there couldn't enter it, the second crew did, and performed important work, but then tragically died on re-entry when their capsule accidentally depressurized . The U.S. retaliated in 1973 with Skylab, a much larger space station which used surplus Project Apollo hardware, essentially replacing the huge S-IVB third stage on a modified Saturn V; instead of propelling an Apollo to the moon, it would be outfitted as a station and stay in Earth orbit. Three crews (using Apollo spacecraft launched on smaller Saturn IB rockets) visited the station before space policy changed and the use of Apollo hardware was ended. NASA hoped to use the space shuttle to boost the station and visit it again, but delays to the shuttle's development
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Unformatted text preview: and unexpectedly high atmospheric drag meant Skylab re-entered over Australia in 1979 and broke up. It was the first and only space station ever built by the USA alone. The Soviets, meanwhile, continued the Salyut programme throughout the 1970s, also using it as a cover for the similar military Almaz space stations (the Soviet military eventually concluded, along with its U.S. counterpart, that manned reconnaissance stations were not significantly better than automated satellite reconnaissance). Salyut 7 significantly upped the ante in 1982, being the first modular space station testbed, and followed by the famous Mir ("peace") in 1986. Mir was constructed from several components and sufficiently alarmed the Americans to persuade them to plan to use the shuttle to build "Space Station Freedom" in the Reagan years - which was repeatedly cut back by successive presidents, one of the cut-down designs being derisively referred to as "Space Station Fred"....
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