The Influence of the Cold War on Space Exploration

The Cold War was really a scientific race between Russia (then the Soviet Union) and the United States for such things as nuclear ambitions and space exploration. Though no actual fighting occurred, the event did prompt some of the most profound changes in the world of technology during the twentieth century. Without that race for glory and scientific insights, we may never have introduced plastic, Styrofoam, or even reliable microwaves into our homes. The technological boom of the sixties and seventies, as well as the ideas that were brought with them, was a direct result of the, as many call it, Silent War.

The push for space exploration was very profound in the sixties. The United States wished to capture territory on the moon, as well as perhaps Martian land claims before Russia could take them all. Russia put the first rocket into space, yet we were the first to the moon. From there, the sky was the limit, or so we thought. We soon realized the true accrued costs of such space travel, and the fuel necessities that made it impossible to venture much further than the moon in a manned spacecraft. Though the space race came to an abrupt hump in the road, the technological advances created by it paid off for the general public.

Many of our present technologies have ancestry in the gadgets used by the astronauts to convey them comfortably and quickly through the infinite emptiness of space. That space race came about from a silent war of intellectual strength. The greatest world superpowers fighting for the dominion of the heavens. Since then, the space program has hit more secular humps than heavenly, mostly in the costs of other, less silent, intellectual wars sucking funds away from the program. Perhaps what we need is another silent war, a Cold War Two, to help push us to the next frontiers; Mars and Venus. For now, all we can do is wait and hope that our next steps into the great unknown won’t be our last, as the planet around us that we started to take for granted turns on us and our dreams.