We could have been first!

We could have been first!

Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 7th, 2007, 3:12 pm #1

Speaking of the 1950s as we have been doing, I saw an interesting show on PBS last night revealing the previous untold story about how the US could have beaten the Russians into space with the first satellite had it not been for politics. When WW-II ended a number of the German rocket scientists (headed by Wernher Von Braun) that had developed the German "V2" rockets were brought to America to secretly continue their rocket development with the idea of creating a intercontinental missile (ICBM). By 1956 they had developed a rocket which not only could reach other continents but could launch a satellite. President Eisenhower was very eager to have a satellite for recognizance purposes but because of Von Braun and his team's association with Germany someone in the government decided that the job of launching the first US satellite should be done by the Navy's Vanguard rocket team.

The Vanguard team worked for months trying to develop a rocket capable of doing this all the while one sat at Von Braun's Alabama test facilities ready to go. Von Braun and his team was furious that the government wasn't letting them do the job but because all this was top secret couldn't say anything publicly. Well in October of '57 the Russians surprised everyone by launching Sputnik- beating us into space and impressing the world. The embarrassed US government order the Navy to rush their Vanguard program to get a US satellite up ASAP to minimize the embarrassment. They rushed it so much that their rocket blew up on the launching pad on live TV (I remember watching that!) embarrassing the US even more. In desperation finally Von Braun was giving the go-ahead to try his rocket- it was brought out of storage and worked perfectly launching the US's first satellite six weeks later. The irony is it could have done this a whole year earlier- beating the Russians and saving America a 'black eye' that we have never lived down.
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Brandon
Brandon

November 7th, 2007, 3:14 pm #2

"a black eye that we have never lived down."

Come on let's be real, the world forgot all about Sputnik on July 20, 1969.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 7th, 2007, 3:16 pm #3

I disagree, Russia will forever be remembered as the FIRST country to launch the space era.
Nothing can changed that.
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Brandon
Brandon

November 7th, 2007, 4:06 pm #4

Russia put a beach ball in space.

America sent men to the moon and brought them back safely.

One doesn't even compare in importance to the other.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 7th, 2007, 4:43 pm #5

Technologically this true, but the prestige of being the first country in space- the country that began the space age- is still very important. If you are the first to fly it doesn't matter if you did it in a jetliner or a balsa-wood biplane- you will forever be remembered as being the FIRST.

There was world-wide remembrance of Sputniks 50th anniversary's last month.
I bet the US's first satellite's anniversary won't even be mentioned.
How many people can even remember it's name?

I would add that a large percentage of people all over the world don't believe we landed on the moon at all- that it was all a Hollywood movie trick. A book was even written giving all sort of 'evidence' 'proving' it was a hoax.

No-one doubts Russia launched Sputnik. It was heard on shortwave radios all over the world. I always wondered why Russia put it on a low short-wave frequency rather in the VHF-UHF bands normally use by satellites- this show explained they deliberately put it on a frequency that anybody with a shortwave radio could here so there would be no doubt that they had indeed launch a satellite.
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cool beans boi
cool beans boi

November 7th, 2007, 7:58 pm #6

Russia put a beach ball in space.

America sent men to the moon and brought them back safely.

One doesn't even compare in importance to the other.
The US sent six sucessful to the moon and back. Quite more impresssive than Sputnik
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 7th, 2007, 9:43 pm #7

Oh I agree, but I don't think most people around the world are as impressed by that.
As I noted above many people don't believe it even happened.
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Marseil
Marseil

November 8th, 2007, 6:19 pm #8

Besides technical considerations, I believe spatial conquest made a lot for nations unity, and for a global citizen support to the governments.....

Gagarin's first venture in space made every Soviet citizen proud to be a part of this dream. Remember, this was Soviet Union, not Russia. People were suffering in their daily lives, space conquest provided a relief, and helped national feeling and unity.

1961 Kennedy speech where he promised the US would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade made a lot to unite the US. This was the time of Vietnam war, the space conquest was useful to make Americans proud.

Now???? We hardly pay any attention when the Space Shuttle or the Ariane rockets go up and down....

Maybe the only place where spatial conquest is used for national unity building is where the Long March Rockets are sent.....

Marseil.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 8th, 2007, 8:08 pm #9

Well I must say our lack of man space exploration has been a huge disappointment to me. We made such rapid progress in the 1960s I figured by now I'd be vacationing on one of many cities we had built on the moon- or maybe even Mars. Instead the best we have done since 1974 has been low earth obit in a long wore out Model-T space shuttle that's falling apart. And I think it's a disgrace that most of our own commercial satellites are now launch by foreign rockets because our own launch facilities are inadequate. The abject failure of our space program seems to be exemplary of what's gone wrong with this country the past 35 years.
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Brandon
Brandon

November 9th, 2007, 1:40 am #10

I agree we should have put men on Mars by now. I think most NASA scientists thought we would have by 2007.

The problem is that the space program since Sputnik was more about the cold war than anything else. So once the U.S sent men to the moon and beat the Russians, Americans don't see the need to spend the kind of money on space that it would take to do something like a manned Mars flight.

I wonder if most people understand how many everyday items like calculators are the direct result of space research.
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