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To Infinity and Beyond: The Space Race

As the Cold War dragged on, the Americans and the Russians continued to fight (indirectly) on the
ground. However, the two countries soon found another arena for battle: space.
From 1957 to about the mid-70s, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. engaged in a Space Race to see which
nation could conquer the atmosphere and everything beyond. For many Americans, this was the most
“tangible” and visible component of the Cold War, far removed from the covert operations and foreign
wars of the early 1950s.
And it all started with a metal basketball...





The American Response: N.A.S.A. and the Apollo
America would not take this Soviet breakthrough laying down,
however. Within just a few months, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (N.A.S.A.) was created, and millions of
dollars flowed into math and science education by the federal
Below you will research the history and uses of the American space

The Apollo Program: The Spacecraft

Military Implications and Uses of the Space Program

Prestige to Gain from the Space Program

Technology and Civilian Benefits Derived from the Space Program

Developing the

James Webb, Administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968, described the formidable task
facing the space agency in 1961:
The Apollo requirement was to take off from a point on the surface of the
Earth that was traveling 1000 miles per hour as the Earth rotated, to go into
orbit at 18,000 miles an hour, to speed up at the proper time to 25,000 miles an
hour, to travel to a body in space 240,000 miles distant which was itself
traveling 2000 miles per hour relative to the Earth, to go into orbit around this
body, and to drop a specialized landing vehicle to its surface. There men were
to make observations and measurements, collect specimens, leave instruments
that would send back data on what we found, and then repeat much of the
outward-bound process to get back home.¹

The lunar-orbit mode of flying to the Moon was selected only after fierce debate within
NASA. It was the simplest of the three methods being considered, both in terms of
development and costs, but it was risky. There was no room for error or the crew could
not get home. Once the mode of flight was selected, NASA engineers could proceed
with building a launch vehicle and creating the basic components of the spacecraft--a
habitable crew compartment, a baggage car of some type, and a service module
containing propulsion and other expendable systems that could be jettisoned on the trip
The Spacecraft
Almost with the announcement of the lunar landing commitment in 1961, NASA
technicians began a crash program to develop a reasonable configuration for the trip to
lunar orbit and back. What they came up with was a spacecraft that contained a three-
person command module capable of sustaining human life for two weeks or more in
either Earth or lunar orbit; a service module holding oxygen, maneuvering rockets, fuel
cells, life support, and other equipment that could be jettisoned upon reentry to Earth;
rockets for slowing the spacecraft to prepare for reentry; and finally a launch escape
system that was discarded upon achieving orbit.
The Launch Vehicle
Boosting the Apollo vehicles to the Moon and returning them home safely was the job of
the giant Saturn V. The Saturn family of rockets was developed by Wernher von Braun
at the Marshall Space Flight Center. At 363 feet tall, the Saturn V was the first launch
vehicle large enough that it had to be assembled away from the launch pad and
transported there.
The Saturn V had three stages. The first stage generated 7.5 million pounds of thrust
from five massive engines. The extreme heat and shock of firing these engines required
new alloys and construction techniques, among the most significant engineering
accomplishments of the program. As fuel burned off, making the vehicle weigh less, the
second stage fired to deliver 1 million pounds of thrust. The third stage burned to
send Apollo out of Earth orbit and on its way to the Moon.

The Lunar Module

The Apollo lunar module, or LM, was the first true spacecraft-designed to fly only in a
vacuum, with no aerodynamic qualities whatsoever. Launched attached to
the Apollo command/service module, it separated in lunar orbit and descended to the
Moon with two astronauts inside. At the end of their stay on the surface, the lunar
module's ascent stage fired its own rocket to rejoin the command/service module in
lunar orbit.
The Saturn launch vehicle and the Apollo spacecraft were difficult technological
challenges, but the lunar module, the third part of the hardware for the Moon landing,
represented the most serious problem. Begun a year later than it should have been, the
lunar module was consistently behind schedule and over budget. Much of the problem
turned on the difficulty of devising two separate components--one for descending to the
surface of the Moon and one for returning to the command module. Both engines had to
work perfectly or the very real possibility existed that the astronauts would not return
The launch vehicle, the spacecraft, and the lunar module were manufactured many
hundreds of miles from each other. Transported by specially fitted ocean-going ships and
aircraft to the Kennedy Space Center, they came together for the first time in the huge
Vehicle Assembly Building. In March 1969 the crew of Apollo 9 tested the third piece of
Apollo hardware--the Lunar Module. For ten days, the astronauts put all three Apollo
vehicles through their paces in Earth orbit, undocking and then redocking the lunar
lander with the command module, just as they would in lunar orbit. Two of the
astronauts performed a space walk, and one checked out the new Apollo spacesuit, the
first to have its own life support system rather than being dependent on an umbilical
connection to the spacecraft. This mission paved the way for a dress rehearsal for a
Moon landing with Apollo 10 and the subsequent success of Apollo 11.
Military Uses of Space
During human history, the exploration of space has been based on more than just scientific potential. People may
like to believe that we are exploring the cosmos purely for academic purposes, but the truth is that space plays a
huge role in both offensive and defensive military planning. In fact, much of the exploration that humans have
already achieved would not have come to pass if it had not been for the military motives that underpin most space
missions. Long before satellites orbited Earth for cell phone calls,global positioning systems , or picture taking,
the military was interested in space. Commercial interest would not come until years later.

While many countries now have space agencies and conduct missions into space, it was the United States and
Russia who first began the competition to reach the stars. In 1957, more than a decade after World War II, and after
the Cold War had been in bloom for years, the "space race" began. The Cold War—a war of spies and threats, of
moves and counter-moves—had reached a new plateau. Nuclear power had been demonstrated by both
superpowers and as rockets began slowly to become more advanced, space weaponry became the new
battleground. Not only could weapons be placed in space, but powerful cameras could be used for spying on the
enemy. The potential uses for space during the Cold War were numerous and clearly visible.

Each side believed that having weapons in orbit could mean their success in this war and the destruction of their
enemies. Test planes were designed to fly in space, while rockets became more than just short range missiles.
Satellites would soon be designed and the launches would lead to panic and confusion.

In 1952 branches of the U.S. military, including the air force and the navy, along with private companies began
trying to design planes for space travel. During a time when all planes flew with propellers, these ideas were
unheard of. When the experimental X-15 debuted in 1958, the craft was far ahead of other planes. For nine years,
these three hypersonic, or faster than sound, planes made more than 200 trips with twelve different pilots. They
continued their trips during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. These craft would lead designers to create a
reusable spacecraft that later became the space shuttle. Amazingly, these planes made it into space and landed
back on Earth decades before the space shuttle ever flew.

Ironically, the role these weapons played would become more defensive than offensive. As each superpower
increased its stockpile of nuclear arms and continued its space program, it was obvious that an attack and
destruction of one would lead to the mutual destruction of the other. Great efforts were made by both sides to keep
the mutual destruction from happening while secretly trying to gain the advantage.

In January 1954, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced the new "Massive Retaliation" policy. If the
Soviet Union attacked, the United States would return the attack with its huge nuclear arsenal. Despite this, the
Cold War would continue to grow in scope, and while no nuclear weapons were fired, there were plenty of times
when this Cold War almost became a hot one.

Russia Takes the Lead

Three years later, in 1957, America went through one of its biggest nuclear scares. On October 4, the Soviet Union
launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. Even though it was only the size of a basketball, many believed
that a nuclear warhead was onboard and that this was a Russian attack. During the 98 minutes that it circled Earth,
the 83 kilogram (183-pound) ball showed that the space race was no longer theoretical, or even solely missile

In reality, the Soviets had simply beaten the United States to the first satellite launch. No nuclear warhead was
onboard and the only thing given off by Sputnik was a radio transmitter's beep, proving that the satellite was
functioning properly.

The Soviet Union would improve its lead, as it would soon send up Sputnik II, containing a small dog in its cargo.
This was still before any U.S. satellite had been launched. The seriousness of the situation led Congress to pass
the National Aeronautics and Space Act in July 1958. This act created NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, on October 1 of that year.
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including
the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies
January 27th, 1967

Article I
The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out
for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific
development, and shall be the province of all mankind.
Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all
States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law,
and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.
There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial
bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such investigation.

Article II
Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim
of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

Article III
States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the
moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United
Nations, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-
operation and understanding.

Article IV
States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear
weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or
station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.
The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for
peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any
type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of
military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use
of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall
also not be prohibited.

Article V
States Parties to the Treaty shall regard astronauts as envoys of mankind in outer space and shall render
to them all possible assistance in the event of accident, distress, or emergency landing on the territory of
another State Party or on the high seas. When astronauts make such a landing, they shall be safely and
promptly returned to the State of registry of their space vehicle.
In carrying on activities in outer space and on celestial bodies, the astronauts of one State Party shall
render all possible assistance to the astronauts of other States Parties.
States Parties to the Treaty shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the Treaty or the Secretary-
General of the United Nations of any phenomena they discover in outer space, including the moon and
other celestial bodies, which could constitute a danger to the life or health of astronauts.
Article VI
States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space,
including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental
agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in
conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in
outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing
supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space,
including the moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for
compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties
to the Treaty participating in such organization.

Article VII
Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space,
including the moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an
object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural
or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air or in outer space, including
the moon and other celestial bodies.

Article VIII
A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain
jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a
celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on
a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a
celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of
the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which
shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.

Article IX
In the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, States Parties to
the Treaty shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and shall conduct all their
activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard to the
corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty. States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue
studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so
as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting
from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for
this purpose. If a State Party to the Treaty has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by it
or its nationals in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially
harmful interference with activities of other States Parties in the peaceful exploration and use of outer
space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, it shall undertake appropriate international
consultations before proceeding with any such activity or experiment. A State Party to the Treaty which has
reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by another State Party in outer space, including the
moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful
exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, may request
consultation concerning the activity or experiment.

Article X
In order to promote international co-operation in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon
and other celestial bodies, in conformity with the purposes of this Treaty, the States Parties to the Treaty
shall consider on a basis of equality any requests by other States Parties to the Treaty to be afforded an
opportunity to observe the flight of space objects launched by those States. The nature of such an
opportunity for observation and the conditions under which it could be afforded shall be determined by
agreement between the States concerned.
Article XI
In order to promote international co-operation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, States
Parties to the Treaty conducting activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies,
agree to inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international
scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and
results of such activities. On receiving the said information, the Secretary-General of the United Nations
should be prepared to disseminate it immediately and effectively.

Article XII
All stations, installations, equipment and space vehicles on the moon and other celestial bodies shall be
open to representatives of other States Parties to the Treaty on a basis of reciprocity. Such representatives
shall give reasonable advance notice of a projected visit, in order that appropriate consultations may be
held and that maximum precautions may betaken to assure safety and to avoid interference with normal
operations in the facility to be visited.
John F. Kennedy's Special Message to Congress on Urgent National
May 25th, 1961
Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world
between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which
occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the
Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men
everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they
should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under
review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the
National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where
we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to
take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this
nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many
ways may hold the key to our future on earth.
I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have
never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We
have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time
so as to insure their fulfillment.
Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many
months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in
still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while
we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort
will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat
of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a
race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of
others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.
I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities,
to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of
landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will
be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will
be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate
lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now
being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development
and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this
nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real
sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire
nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate
development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even
more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of
the solar system itself.
Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use
of space satellites for world-wide communications.
Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars--of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau--will help give
us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.
Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be clear
that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a
course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal '62--an
estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or
reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the
Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter
It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four
years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with
certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the
Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention
over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring
that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work
and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and
facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly
spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized
our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of
material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.
New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further--
unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant
gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting
adventure of space.
Why have a space program?
Glad you asked ...
By Jim Lovell
June 29, 1999
As long as there has been a space program, there have been detractors. "What
are we doing up in space when we've got real problems right here on Earth?"
I welcome that question since it gives me a chance to list the multitude of
innovations we use every day that were first developed for space exploration.
And that list keeps getting longer and longer.
Just recently, I used a new ear thermometer to check the temperature of a
squirming grandchild. The handy device is based on metal coatings technology
developed for space helmets.
Smoke detectors, hand-held vacuum cleaners, water filters and ergonomic
furniture are just some of the many household items first developed for use in
space. The highly efficient foam insulation used in new homes was first used to
insulate fuel tanks on liquid-fueled rockets.
Portable X-ray machines, programmable pacemakers and many surgical tools
were all pioneered as part of the space program. Concentrated baby foods, as
well as the freeze-dried instant mixes we feed our kids, were first consumed in
space. Many of the biofeedback techniques used to reduce stress were first
developed for use by astronauts.
Satellites have revolutionized telecommunications and the Global Positioning
System (GPS) can help navigators on land, in the air or on the seas locate their
position to within 10 feet anywhere in the world.
The list goes on and on. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on
space development, $7 have been returned to the economy in the form of a new
product or service. But one space-program spin-off is paying dividends greater
than anyone ever imagined.
While the economy in many parts of the world is in shambles, the U.S. economy
keeps humming along. Americans are earning more money than ever before.
Unemployment is near an all-time low. And, amazingly, inflation is virtually
Why is the American economy so strong? Economists, not generally known for
brevity, answer with a single word: productivity. Since 1990, productivity
increases in the United States have averaged 2.1 percent each year.
Besides our fabled work ethic, what is it that makes American workers so
productive? Computers. American workers know how to use computer
technology to work better and smarter. And you can thank the space program for
those computers.
During the 1950s, computers were the size of a supermarket. To travel into
space, however, we needed computers that could fit into a phone booth.
Companies like Fairchild and Intel experimented with ways to reduce the size of
computers. The result was the microprocessor.
Every one of the tiny computer chips found in personal computers, network
servers, airplanes, manufacturing equipment, cars, toaster ovens, washing
machines, toys, alarm clocks, and thousands of other products can trace its
heritage back to those integrated circuits first developed for the space program.
Thirty-five years ago, critics called the newly invented microprocessors
"novelties" and "toys." Today, the cost of developing these "toys" has been
returned a billion-fold, if not more.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration accounts for a mere 1
percent of the federal budget — an amazingly small amount when you consider
the profound effect the agency's work has had on the quality of our lives.
Ironically, while the research and development budgets for other government
agencies are increasing, NASA's continues to decline — this in spite of its
extraordinary track record.
We must continue investing in technology and the space program. We should
encourage our children to study math and science. If anything, we should invest
more in science education. Standard & Poors DRI estimates that if our
productivity and innovation continues at its present rate, real wages could rise
by 9 percent over the next decade. Corporate earnings could rise as much as 54
Scientific growth means economic growth. The evidence is irrefutable. Let's not
turn our backs on progress. There is still so much to discover — new medicines,
new materials, new ways to protect the environment.
If I sound like I'm excited, I am. Who knows which new "toys" will revolutionize
the way we live.

Look at all the cool stuff

N.A.S.A. has given us!

(Note: It is a myth that Tang was invented by N.A.S.A., although it was taken into space on
some flights.)
Soviet Fires Earth Satellite Into Space; It Is Circling the Globe at 18,000 M.P.H.; Sphere Tracked in 4
Crossings Over U.S.
Special to The New York Times
MOSCOW, Saturday, Oct. 5 -- The Soviet Union announced this morning that it successfully launched a man-
made earth satellite into space yesterday.
The Russians calculated the satellite's orbit at a maximum of 560 miles above the earth and its speed at 18,000
miles an hour.
The official Soviet news agency Tass said the artificial moon, with a diameter of twenty-two inches and a weight
of 184 pounds, was circling the earth once every hour and thirty-five minutes. This means more than fifteen
times a day.
Two radio transmitters, Tass said, are sending signals continuously on frequencies of 20.005 and 40.002
megacycles. These signals were said to be strong enough to be picked up by amateur radio operators. The
trajectory of the satellite is being tracked by numerous scientific stations.
Tass said the satellite was moving at an angle of 65 degrees to the equatorial plane and would pass over the
Moscow area twice today.
"Its flight," the announcement added, "will be observed in the rays of the rising and setting sun with the aid of the
simplest optical instruments, such as binoculars and spyglasses."
The Soviet Union said the world's first satellite was "successfully launched" yesterday. Thus it asserted that it
had put a scientific instrument into space before the United States. Washington has disclosed plans to launch a
satellite next spring, Oct. 4.
The Moscow announcement said the Soviet Union planned to send up more and bigger and heavier artificial
satellites during the current International Geophysical Year, an eighteen-month period of study of the earth, its
crust and the space surrounding it.
The rocket that carried the satellite into space left the earth at a rate of five miles a second, the Tass
announcement said. Nothing was revealed, however, concerning the material of which the man-made moon was
constructed or the site in the Soviet Union where the sphere was launched.
The Soviet Union said its sphere circling the earth had opened the way to interplanetary travel. It did not pass up
the opportunity to use the launching for propaganda purposes. It said in its announcement that people now could
see how "the new socialist society" had turned the boldest dreams of mankind into reality.
Moscow said the satellite was the result of years of study and research on the part of Soviet scientists. Tass
said: "For several years the research and experimental designing work has been under way in the Soviet Union
to create artificial satellites of the earth. It has already been reported in the press that the launching of the earth
satellites in the U.S.S.R. had been planned in accordance with the program of International Geophysical Year
"As a result of intensive work by the research institutes and design bureaus, the first artificial earth satellite in the
world has now been created. This first satellite was successfully launched in the U.S.S.R. October four."
The Soviet announcement said that as a result of the tremendous speed at which the satellite was moving it
would burn up as soon as it reached the denser layers of the atmosphere. It gave no indication how soon that
would be.
Military experts have said that the satellites would have no practicable military application in the foreseeable
future. They said, however, that study of such satellites could provide valuable information that might be applied
to flight studies for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The satellites could not be used to drop atomic or hydrogen bombs or anything else on the earth, scientists have
said. Nor could they be used in connection with the proposed plan for aerial inspection of military forces around
the world.
Their real significance would be in providing scientists with important new information concerning the nature of
the sun, cosmic radiation, solar radio interference and static-producing phenomena radiating from the north and
south magnetic poles. All this information would be of inestimable value for those who are working on the
problem of sending missiles and eventually men into the vast reaches of the solar system.
Publicly, Soviet scientists have approached the launching of the satellite with modesty and caution. On the
advent of the International Geophysical Year last June they specifically disclaimed a desire to "race" the United
States into the atmosphere with the little sphere.
The scientists spoke understandingly of "difficulties" they had heard described by their American counterparts.
They refused several invitations to give any details about their own problems in designing the satellite and gave
even less information than had been generally published about their work in the Soviet press.
Concerning the launching of their first satellite, they said only that it would come "before the end of the
geophysical year" -- by the end of 1958. Several weeks earlier, however, in a guarded interview given only to the
Soviet press, Alexander N. Nesmeyanov, head of the Soviet Academy of Science, dropped a hint that the first
launching would occur "within the next few months."
But generally Soviet scientists consistently refused to boast about their project or to give the public or other
scientists much information about their progress. Key essentials concerning the design of their satellites, their
planned altitude, speed and instruments to be carried in the small sphere, were carefully guarded secrets.