First things first...
The Cold war as we know it began after WWII when the alliances between the U.S., Soviet Union, and the Great Britain began to crumble due to the mistrust of the Soviet Union. Communist pressures started to overwhelm the U.S. and created great fear that the U.S. would soon become communistic. The "war" led to many things, especially the advancement in science and technology. The strive to become more technologically advanced not only involved weapons, but also in astronomy and home life improvements. Over a span of about 40 years, technology would get so advanced that man would set foot on the moon. But with the Soviet Union advancing at a similar rate as the U.S., pressures grew, intensifying the speed at which technology was improving.

The Space Race
Unexpectedly, on October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched their first artificial unmanned satellite, "Sputnik".

The U.S., hearing of the successful launch, sprung into action. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed by congress and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This established an agency with a mandate to explore the depths of space for the "benefit of all mankind. Surprisingly the U.S. would've been able to launch a satellite before the Soviets, had it been made a priority. A team of German scientists Wernher Von Braun had surrendered to the U.S. at the end of WWII and were taken to the U.S. to continue the work on rockets they had been forced to do in by the Nazis. Though the rockets were not meant for he military that's where the funding came from. By 1956 they were ready to launch a small satellite, but Eisenhower wanted to keep military and civilian access to space separate and didn't want to have more competition with other nations (a big mistake).

On November 3, 1957 Sputnik II was launched, with passenger Laika on board (dog). Although it was an accomplishment to have the first biological satellite enter orbit, the presumed death of Laika was bad propaganda for the Soviet Union


The U.S. launches the first successful U.S. satellite, the Explorer 1, on February 1, 1958


On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space and to orbit the Earth once.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) - federal science agency for the development of new technology to be incorporated for space exploration.

On May 24, 1961 John F. Kennedy addresses congress and proposes the challenge that the U.S. go to the moon before the end of the decade.

The Soviets had successfully completed more satellite missions, but the the development of the Saturn rocket (U.S.) and spacecraft modules were nearing completion. On January 27, 1967 several astronauts were killed in a fire that ocurred in a grounded space module. This happened because NASA was rushing the project. But the race continued nevertheless.


Apollo 11 blasts off on July 16, 1969 and four days later the "Eagle" lunar module touched down on the moons surface. Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to set foot on the moon, followed by Buzz Aldrin. This becomes known as one of the most historic moments of all time as 600 million people across the world watched on television.


With WWII over, the power and effect of Nuclear weapons was made
clear and would forever change the way wars were fought.
Opinions on the use of the atomic bombs on Japan were
mostly supportive right at the end of the war. But as the time
passed, public opinions changed. Nevertheless, during the
Cold War tensions were high, and research and development of
nuclear weapons was speeding up at an alarming rate.

National Science Foundation: An organization to handle policies regarding scientific and nuclear research. Passed by Truman in 1950. It was meant for basic scientific training that was not tarnished by political involvement.

The H-Bomb - America changed the war when we set off the first H-Bomb in 1952, a bomb that is smaller in size than the A-Bomb, but is 2500 times more powerful.

What separates H-bomb from A-bomb?
- An Atomic bomb is based on the principle of fission, in which the particles are separated to release the energy.
- An H-bomb is based on the principle of fusion, in which the particles are fused together in order to release energy.

A year later the Soviet Union came up with their own H-Bomb, making tensions rise even more. With the funding America had, it was able to product a B52 Bomber that could fly 6,000 miles and drop nuclear weaponry. This was an advantage over the Soviets because they did not have the funding for it like America did. However, they focused their attentions on creating more powerful bombs.

Daily Life
Along with many military advancements, came advancements in the daily lives of individuals. Many inventions such as the microwave, satellites, gps, hang gliders, super computers, and ARPANET (pre-internet). These inventions greatly improved civilian life and probably would not have came about if not for the cold war pressure to make advancements in technology.
Microwave - The microwave was invented when Percy LeBaron Spencer noticed that radar waves had melted a candy bar in his pocket. The "Radar Range" was the first microwave produced, about as large and heavy as a refrigerator. The 1161 Radarange was the first commercial microwave but was only practical for restaurant and institutional use due to its size.
GPS - The Global Positioning System is a network of 24 satellites of which the last was launched into orbit in 1993. These satellites make it possible for a person to find their latitude and longitude within a couple hundred feet.
Hang Gliders - Surprisingly hang gliders have ties to NASA. Dr. Francis Regallo, a NASA scientist, became interested in hang gliding flight in his spare time. His design was patented in 1948, and studies began at NASA to see if the Regallo could be used to guide space capsules to earth.fly1.jpg

Super Computers - In 1958, Seymour Cray created the first ever completely transistorized supercomputer. It was invented for the sake of the Control Data Corporation. Supercomputers have the ability to do vast mathematical calculations as well as solve other complex problems.
ARPAnet - Basically the ARPAnet is the Great Grandpappy of the modern Internet. Work began on it in 1969 and it was designed to be a computer version of a nuclear bomb shelter. Its purpose was to protect information from getting into the wrong hands by connecting separate computer with a network via NCP (Network Control Protocol).
Science FictionIt's no question why science fiction became popular during the cold war. Technology was advancing rapidly and people were becoming more and more interested in the unknown. Speculation about alien life grew exponentially since the U.S. landed on the moon.
WAR OF THE WORLDS- One of the most influential science fiction novels War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells was adapted by Orson Welles and broadcasted over the radio on October 30, 1938. The problem with this was, is that the listeners were unaware that it was a fictional broadcast, and believed aliens had actually invaded Earth. Many panicked and packed up their cars and fled, only to later find out that it wasn't real.
SignificanceHad the Cold War not happened at all the U.S. would not be nearly as technologically advanced as we are today, nor would we had made it to the moon. The Cold War tested the line of how far science should go, for the good of mankind. Luckily no bombs were dropped during this time period, but the threat of it was overbearing. The competition between two nations (U.S. and S.U.) drove them to both make extreme advancements in science, the space race being the most significant, that has gotten the world to where it is today.
IMPACTThe science that came along with the Cold War has a lasting impact to this day. Although NASA has been shut down, we are still learning more and more about the universe with the satellites that still exist today. The tensions that were brought about with the threat of new weaponry however, caused the world to go into deep fear. There were inventions that came about in this time period, most of which still exist today, just in new forms. For most U.S. families they use the microwave everyday, as well as the internet which has its roots in the ARPAnet. The Cold War was a time period of fear and scientific advancement, for better or for worse.


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