Space race history – Space flights in the 1960s were part of the Cold War

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The archive story was published on October 17, 2003 by KU.The sending of the world’s first human to space just over 42 years ago under the coldest phase of the Cold War. Major Yuri Gagari’s space flight took place on April 12, 1961. It raised the sense of power in the Soviet Union, which was already in a clear leadership position in the race to conquer space.

The situation was reflected in e.g. As a crisis in Berlin later that year, when Finland also got to taste the threat of Moscow in the form of the famous note crisis.

The following year, 1962, there was a missile crisis in Cuba, when the world is said to be closest to the threat of a total nuclear war than ever before.

Moscow sought to capitalize on its success in the space race in its own peace propaganda. However, this was a rather transparent obscurity, as it was the Soviet Union that used almost the same rockets to transport payloads into space as the nuclear warheads to its targets.

With only a slight exacerbation, it can be said that space flights were an important part of the Cold War that the Soviet Union and the United States fought for world domination.

This is evidenced by e.g. the rapid pace of flights in the early 1960s; counterparty achievement was always forced to respond.

Making space race history – Artificial moons and missile gap

Four and a half years before Gagarin’s historic spaceflight, the Soviet Union had managed to send the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit.

A shiny steel ball emitting a beeping signal and well visible in its orbit even to the naked eye was then called the artificial moon.

Already Sputnik 1. aroused in the United States fears of Soviet military superiority in the field of missiles and missiles. In the USA, the so-called missile shaft.

In fact, the United States at that time had almost complete nuclear superiority. It had another thousand strategic bombers that could have attacked the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union had established strategic missile forces as early as 1958, but it later emerged that in the early 1960s Moscow had only a few so-called, intercontinental but highly inaccurate missiles ready to reach the United States.

That is why Moscow sought to transport medium-range SS-4 and SS-5 missiles to Cuba, which could have been launched from an island controlled by Fidel Castro to the southern parts of the North American continent.

108 minutes around the country

Sputnik 1, which weighed 83.6 pounds and was launched on October 4, 1957, had already gained momentum in the U.S. space program.

After a couple of bitter failures, the U.S. pretty quickly got its own – albeit much smaller – satellite on its orbit.

When Gagarin toured space with his Vostok 1, the Americans ’preparations for getting their own husband into space were well under way.

Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth only once, visiting more than 300 kilometers. The flight lasted 108 minutes, after which Vostok plunged into the earth’s atmosphere.

At this point, the speed of the ship was slowed by brake rockets. The final stage of entry was by parachutes. Gagarin was always in his round capsule, which was 2.3 meters in diameter.

Was Gagarin the first?

From a modern perspective, the Vostok 1 was primitive and very dangerous to the astronaut. The world’s first astronaut survived its flight in the nip of a button.

After Gagarin’s flight, claims were long circulated in the West that Gagarin was not the first Soviet spacecraft, but the first survivor of the flight. It is alleged that scary cries for help would have been heard from space a few times before Gagarin’s flight. The complete secrecy practiced by the Soviet Union at the time in everything related to its space program, of course, facilitated the spread of rumors.

The son of the well-known aircraft designer Sergei Ilyushin was even named as the first victim of space flights.

Second and third Americans in space race

The United States received its first astronaut, Alan Shepard, in space less than a month after the flight of cosmonaut Gagarin, on May 5, 1961.

Again, the same thing happened with the first satellites; the performance of the Americans was more modest than that of the Soviets.

Shepard was on orbiting the earth for only part of the lap, or about 15 minutes. So this first flight of the Mercury program was just a stop in space.

The third person in space was also American. He was Virgil Grissom, who made his Mercury on July 21st. 1961 A similar pop in the Earth’s orbit as Shepard’s.

More drama on Shepard’s flight was brought by the fact that his capsule sank into the sea. The man was so saved. Already at this point, American astronauts landed at sea and Russians ashore.

64 rounds in space

The space race of the Cold War continued to be fierce. Next came the Soviet Union, which on August 6 launched the Vostok 2 ship into orbit.

It was piloted by Herman Titov, who had already been Gagarin’s deputy. Titov toured the globe a total of 17 times and took 25 hours. The Yankees had been beaten again.

But then there was a break of a little over a year on Soviet-occupied space flights and the United States had time to send a fifth man into space.

He was John Glenn, who did 20.2. in 1962 three rounds around the globe. Time in space Glenn got to spend 4 hours and 55 minutes.

Then it was the turn of the United States Scott Carpenter, who 24.5. 1962 made a flight of the same length as John Glenn. The pace of space flights was now heavy.

Dual flights towards docking

In the summer, the Soviet Union was able to bulge again when cosmonaut Andrian Nikolaev launched into space on 11 August. 1962. The number of rounds accumulated a whopping 64, and in space Nikolaev had time to spend 94 hours and 35 minutes during them.

And this is still nothing, because the day after Nikolaev’s departure, the Soviet Union launched another spacecraft. It was crewed by astronaut Pavel Popovits, who orbited the Earth 48 times.

Another similar twin flight on two different ships was made by the Soviet Union less than a year later. At that time, the world’s first woman Valentina Tereskova visited space, touring the country 49 times.

The dual flights were already preparing for the docking of spacecraft and the construction of a larger space station on an orbit.

Yuri Gagarin’s last flight in space race

Yuri Gagarin’s first flight was only aimed at invading space and finding out if man could withstand conditions outside the atmosphere at all.

Gagarin survived from space and never embarked on another flight. But the life of the long-celebrated hero did not continue.

On March 27, 1967, Gagarin took off – he was still an Air Force officer – with the then old-fashioned Mig 15 fighter jet.

According to eyewitnesses, the plane suddenly began to throw leaves and turned into a wild plunge towards the ground, crushing completely.

It has also been alleged that alcohol had played a role in the accident.

The first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, was still involved in the Apollo 14 audition in February 1971.

Shepard walked twice on the surface of the Moon- There was also a moon car to make the movement easier.

Article source: (Finnish language)

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  1. April 12, 2021

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