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To What Extent, Did the Soviet Union's Sputnik Programs Affect United States as a World Leader?

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To what extent, did the Soviet Union's sputnik programs affect United States as a world leader?

Plan of the Investigation

The Americans were astounded and believed that they had lost their position as the world's leading nation after the successful launching of the Soviet Sputnik satellites. Thus, they created new policies and acts in order for them to reclaim their position as a world superpower.

In the investigation, there have been several sources which have been used for supporting details. However the two main sources which will be assessed on their origin, purpose, values and limitation are: The first space race: Launching the world's first satellites, by Homer A. Neal, Tobin L. Smith, and Jennifer B. McCormick, and Legislative Origins of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 by John M. Logsdon.

The investigation will only cover the American's perspective; it will not be incorporating any other perspectives or events other then the events related to America's reaction to the launch of Sputnik satellites and the effects of it on the United States.

Summary of Evidence

The Soviet Sputnik Satellites created fear in the entire American Nation.

* "More than any other event in U.S. history, the Sputnik crisis focused the attention of the American people and policymakers...with the aim of maintaining U.S. ... superiority over the rest of the world. "

* "It has become accepted that sputnik generated widespread panic among the American people... The magazine's reporter in Boston went to far as to describe the reaction as 'massive indifference'."

* "This event startled the world, giving the impression that America was behind the Soviets in science and technology...The competition to build rockets now also became a competition to reach space."

The Sputnik Programs inspired the United States to create new polices and acts in order to maintain their superiority in scientific, technological, and military aspects over the rest of the world.

* "Sputnik's launch convinced U.S. officials that in order to compete with the Soviet Union in space, the United States needed to establish one comprehensive space agency."

o As a result it "led to passage of the Space Act of 1958 , which created the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA was charged with carrying out the space program and developing long- term aerospace research for civilian and military purposes."

* "it appears that the Soviet launch of Sputniks 1 and 2 in the autumn of 1957 took place at exactly the right time to inspire the U.S. entrance into the space age. The ingredients were in place to begin space exploration already, but the Sputnik crisis prompted important legislation that brought many of these elements together into a single organization."

* "The Russian launch of Sputnik in 1957 captured the attention of Americans like no other event of its time. It convinced our nation of the need to greatly enhance support for science education at all levels to ensure that we would never again be caught so far behind in such a critical area to our national well being. One of the best-known by- products of this newfound conviction was the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958 , a program designed to make the United States more competitive with the Soviet Union in science and technology. "

Evaluation of Sources

The first space race: Launching the world's first satellites is the first source which has three authors. Their names are: Homer A. Neal, Tobin L. Smith, and Jennifer B. McCormick. The non- fiction history book was published on July 23, 2008 by Texas A&M University Press in America. The purpose behind writing this book was "to provide a basic text that can be used in an introductory undergraduate or graduate course on science policy." Not only that but also to help students understand the policies created and the events that occurred as a result of the Sputnik satellites. The value of this source is that it was meant to be used as textbook for college and university student, which means that, it has all the information in detail as all textbooks are made to help student understand the topic. On the contrary, there is also a limitation to the source; the authors do not mention about what has happened before the launch of Sputnik 1 and the cause of the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Second source, Legislative Origins of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 by John M. Logsdon. It was published in July 1998 by NASA History Division, Office of Policy and Plans, NASA Headquarters. However, this is a transcript/ a monograph of workshop on April 3, 1992. The purpose of this transcript was to help the audience get a clear understanding of the workshop, considering the interviews done with several people. This is a valuable as it has the interview transcript of the people who had "played an important role in the events of late 1957 and 1958." On the other hand, the source limits the audience from the understanding Russian's perspective because all the participants were Americans and as a result they were all bias limiting the reader from only understand the American's perspective.


The Sputnik 1 was not seen as a Soviet's victory



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