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Usa Space Plan

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USA Space Plan

The Cold War can be described as "a broad contest over the ideologies and allegiances of the nonaligned nations" (pg 1. Garder, S and Launius, R), among many areas, space exploration was directly associated to national defense and became one of the major areas in with the USA and Russia battled over. The so called "space race" started long before the Russians trespassed the atmosphere and left its mark until today in American society.

To ensure leadership in the technological war during the 1940s, the Department of Defense funded research in atmospheric sciences and rocketry. On July 1st, 1957 during the International Geophysical Year, President Eisenhower approved a plan to orbit the first scientific satellite that would gather scientific data about the Earth. In September 1957 the "Soviets test-fired an intercontinental ballistics missile (ICBM"), and a month later, on October 4, they launched the first space satellite, the Sputnik. They were a year ahead of the United States.

American public opinion suffered what could be called a "Pearl Harbor" effect, "a source of security during the Cold War had been wiped away" (p93.Moss,G). The apparent technological gap combined by the poor economy showing clear signs of recession and a scandal in the Eisenhower administration forced the government into action. The government decided to increase spending for aerospace enterprise, programs focusing on science and technology, and the development of federal agencies that would manage air and space research and development.

Criticism fell over the American public schools for not expecting high achievement in math and science from students. Public education became a matter of national security. In 1958 the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) funded high school programs and offered fellowship and loans to college students. Mathematics, science and foreign language were to be the new focus of education and the students were now facing the pressure of being responsible for regaining the technological leadership over the Russians.

On October 1, 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was born as "an act to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth's atmosphere, and for other purposes". On January 31, 1958 the United States launched the first Earth satellite, the Explorer 1, and officially started a series of scientific missions to the Moon and planets. During the first 20 years of existence, NASA promoted several major programs including human space flight- Mercury program; robotic missions - Moon Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter, pioneer Venus and Mars; communication satellites, orbital workshops, Skylab; and the creation of a reusable spacecraft, the Space Shuttle.

President John F. Kennedy decided to shift the focus after the

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