"In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth" (Genesis, 1:1). Notice how the "Heavens" were created first. Hence, it has been around the longest, yet before the middle of the 20th Century, we knew very little about it. It is very difficult to study an environment that cannot be reached. That predicament, however, would no longer be an issue because of the significant contributions of three people: Magnus von Braun, Wernher von Braun, and Robert Goddard. Robert Goddard, known as the "Father of American Rocketry," became interested in rockets while a physics student at Clark University in 1899. He wrote a paper in 1919 entitled A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, in which he presented the mathematical equations that computed the necessary rocket power to get from the Earth to the Moon. Nobody took interest in this, and he was characterized as an obsessed inventor by the rest of the scientific community. However, he continued in his course of study, and on May 16, 1926, he launched the world's first rocket with a liquid propulsion system. In front of a gathering of scientists, Goddard sent up a rocket in New Mexico that had its own revolutionary steering system using a gyroscope and the vanes of the exhaust system. It rose to 4,800 feet, changed direction under perfect control, and came back to earth after another three miles of flight, reaching speeds in excess of 550 miles per hour. His experiments provided useful information for Gustav Guellich, a German spy in
. When Hitler came into power a few years later, Guellich was called upon to provide information about America's rocketry research for the Nazi's own rocket development. Magnus von Braun was the head of the German development of V-2 rockets. They were the world's first remotely controlled missiles. With the information about Goddard's rockets, von Braun was able to complete his research and use these missiles during World War II. His brother, Wernher von Braun, was also a leading developer in the V-2 program. (Breuer, 12) As the war drew to a close, both the US and Russian governments knew that scientists, such as the von Braun brothers, would be highly productive assets to them. Therefore, the United States formed Operation Paperclip, whose aim was to recruit the V-2 specialists after the war before the Russian Army scientists could get to them. Because of our system of government, many of the Germans preferred to be captured by the US Army; they felt that the Russian's Communistic way of life would hinder their opportunities that a democracy such as America could promulgate. Magnus von Braun surrendered himself, along with 500 V-2 technicians, over a ton of V-2 research documents and design plans, and thousands of V-2 rocket parts to a US Army private. The most prized possession from that surrender was Wernher von Braun. He became the single most important individual in America's space program for the next forty years. (Newton, 21) Despite the apparent advantage the United States had over the Russians because of their capture of the von Braun brothers, it was the Soviet Union that would take the first steps towards space. On October 4, 1957, the world's first satellite was launched deep within Russia at the Soviet spaceflight center located at Tyuratam. It was called Sputnik, the Russian word for "traveler." It did very little besides orbit the Earth and beep every few seconds. (Shepard, 41) It completed one orbit every 96 minutes, and each time, it passed over a new part of the planet spreading its message to almost every part of the world. This took the world by surprise. Russia was thought of as a "backward, agricultural society," so how could they be so far ahead of everyone else? (Newton, 12) Many skeptics called the whole episode a hoax and that Sputnik did not ever exist. Others claimed that Russia was only able to accomplish this after many unsuccessful launches that they did not report or that it was only because of the captured V-2 scientists that they were ahead of the United States. Nonetheless, what the Russians accomplished was extraordinary, and it was something that they had been working on for a long time. (Newton, 13) Dating back to 1903, Russia was interested in exploring space. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the founding father of Soviet space research, came up with the formula for keeping a satellite in orbit. He also designed a rocket that would use liquid oxygen and hydrogen as fuel. After World War II, Russia was able to capture many V-2 technicians while the United States got the majority of the upper-level scientists. The Russian Army hauled them, as well as a few intact V-2 rockets and many V-2 plans, back to the Soviet Union. (Newton, 13) While the United States was concentrating its efforts on nuclear weapons and rockets designed to carry them (nuclear warhead weighed significantly less than traditional warheads), Russia stayed with more conventional weapons and had to design large, powerful rockets that would be able to hit the United States from deep within the Soviet Union. It was because of these ICBMs (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles) that Russia had a big advantage over the US in the race for space. These ICBMs had to be very powerful to carry Russia's heavier payload, so they could reach space more easily than America's "more advanced" and smaller rockets. Despite all of this, many people still doubted Russia's commitment to space travel. Therefore, Russia put its money where its mouth was and launched Sputnik 2 just one month after its older sister hit orbit. It was not only much larger than the original, but it proved that technology could allow for humans to eventually survive in space, as Sputnik 2 carried the first living organism ever into space: a dog named Laika. Vital data about the dog was recorded for the first seven days of the flight, after which no one knows exactly what happened to the animal. Apparently, no rescue plans were ever made to attempt to recover her, so she was either poisoned after the week of experiments or died from lack of oxygen sometime thereafter. These launches not only caused hatred and envy of the Russians by Americans, but fear as well. People in the United States were afraid that the Russians could attack them from space, and they began to doubt their own military for allowing this possibility to even occur. The Russians used their early success as propaganda for Communism. According to Mstislav Keldysh, the president of the USSR Academy of Sciences: "The most advanced social system, [that which] merged science to communism into one whole, creates the most favorable conditions for material and intellectual progress.... [A]rmed with revolutionary Marxist-Leninist theory... [the Soviet Union] has taken a leading position in some very important scientific fields. A clear example of the development level of Soviet science and engineering are the successes achieved in space exploration..." (Newton, 15) They felt that their successes in the space program proved that Communism was a superior form of government. Premier Nikita Khruschev tried to further emphasize this: "[Capitalist statesmen] used to make fun of us, saying that we Russians were running about in bark sandals and lapping up cabbage soup with those sandals... Then, suddenly, you understand those who they thought lapped up cabbage soup with bark sandals go into outer space earlier than the so-called civilized ones" (Newton, 16). The Americans were concerned because of the launches of two Sputniks, but the fact that all of their own rockets failed upset them even more. On December 5, 1957, the United States tried to "save face" by launching Vanguard TV-3, a smaller yet technologically superior satellite to the two Sputniks currently in orbit. However, in front of reporters from across the country and world, the rocket dramatically rose about 1 meter off the launch pad before exploding in flames and crashing back down to earth. To add insult to injury, a Russian UN delegate asked his American counterpart if the Soviets could help the United States' space program under its Aid to Underdeveloped Nations program. (Newton, 19). The biggest disadvantage the United States had was that all three branches of their military were working on three separate rockets at the same time; in Russia, all of the armed forces came together and collaborated their manpower and knowledge to build one single type of rocket. Von Braun worked with the Army, and they were responsible for developing the Orbiter program, which used an upgraded Army Redstone rocket. The highly unsuccessful Vanguard TV-3 was developed under the Navy's Vanguard Project. They used a less powerful rocket for propulsion: an updated Viking rocket. However, they used a more sophisticated satellite. The Air Force had the most powerful rocket, the Atlas ICBM, but it was not nearly as far into development as were the other two projects. The Stewart Committee was assembled to choose which department of the armed forces would launch their satellite first. They chose the Vanguard. They chose poorly. One might think that the Vanguard team learned from their first mistake. They didn't. On their second launch attempt, approximately three months after the first, the rocket lifted off the launchpad, and seemed to be heading off to a successful start. Suddenly, the rocket changed course and had to be destroyed only 57 seconds into flight. The entire project was a failure, although they did eventually launch three satellites into orbit within the next few years. Dr. von Braun was asked to finish work on his Orbiter program. As a result of his participation, they had the United States' first satellite ready for launch within three months. This satellite was superior to the Sputniks in almost every way. Named Explorer 1, this satellite was only 5% of the weight of Sputnik 1 and less than 1% of the weight of Sputnik 2. The first Russian satellite beeped and recorded some data that was never used, and the second had life-support equipment and more data recorders. Explorer 1 had a few very important instruments. Mainly, there was a Geiger-counter, for the measuring of radiation. It was launched successfully on January 31, 1958. Within a few days of being placed into orbit, the first discovery, as a direct result of the space programs, was made. The readings from the Geiger-counter indicated belts of radiation around the earth. These Van Allen Belts were named for the man who placed the Geiger-counter inside the satellite, Dr. James A. Van Allen. (Shepard, 48) The space race had now truly begun. The United States quickly launched their second satellite into orbit. To everyone's surprise, a Vanguard rocket was used! The satellite, Vanguard 1, measured the shape of the earth. The US learned from this that the Earth was actually pear-shaped, not spherical. Many more important satellites were launched within the next few years. Russia had the first satellite to escape Earth's gravity with Luna 1 on January 2, 1959. It was set on course to strike the moon, but missed by only about 3,700 miles (a very small distance relative to space). On February 17, the United States countered with their own first with Vanguard 2, which had the first photograph of the earth from space. Pioneer 4 was then sent to do a fly-by of the moon on March 3, 1959. We got our first television images from space from a US satellite, Explorer 6, which was launched on August 7, 1959. The Russians struck the moon's surface with Luna 2 after being launched on September 13, 1959. However, it did not record any data about the experience, so the USSR was determined to place a piece of machinery directly on the lunar surface. After many failures, they finally succeeded. Luna 9 became the first human-fabricated object to make a soft landing on the moon on February 3, 1966. The United States was very busy working on making their satellites technological wonders. The world's first weather satellite, TIROS 1, was launched on April 1, 1960, and followed only twelve days later with Transit 1B, the first successful navigation satellite. The world now believed that the United States was much more sophisticated than the Russians were, and that belief was strengthened on August 12, 1960 with the launch of Echo 1, the world's first communications satellite. It seemed as if the US might be the dominant nation in Space Age. (Newton, 130) The United States now wanted to be the first nation to put a man into space. They formed the Mercury Seven, a selection of seven men chosen out of hundreds of candidates. These men were to represent America and all it stood for. The press and the American public worshipped them. They were the most physically and mentally fit individuals NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) could find. Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, and Deke Slayton made up the Mercury Seven. The three leading candidates for the first human flight were Shepard, Grissom, and Glenn, while the others were basically pushed aside as "secondary" astronauts. (Shepard, 79). Shepard was later chosen to be the first man to sit on top of that huge Redstone rocket, which was to carry him into sub-orbital flight. This caused some internal strife among the other six Mercury astronauts, but they were quickly silenced when told by the head of NASA that Shepard was his decision, and that his decision was final. What the astronauts were not told until later was that although Shepard would be the first human in space, he would be preceded by a primate. Monkeys were being trained to "operate" space vehicles, and one was eventually chosen to be the first. Dubbed "Ham," this chimp was blasted off into space on January 31st, 1961. The flight was not as successful as anticipated. The takeoff didn't go as planned, the instruments malfunctioned, the lights inside the capsule didn't work correctly, the landing location was off by a few hundred miles, and the chimp was bounced around the tiny capsule the whole time. However, it was still a positive sign that there was a realistic possibility that America was capable of sending the first human into space. (Shepard, 90) That dream was crushed, however, on April 12, 1961. An enormous SS-6 Russian ICBM hurled Yuri A. Gagarin into space and into history. The Vostok 1 capsule took him around the earth only once in just 89 minutes. The Russians had beaten the United States into space. Unfortunately, Shepard was scheduled to go up on March 27, 1961, but complications caused the launch to be postponed until May 5. Gagarin was given royal treatment back in Russia. He was given ticker-tape parades down the main streets in Moscow and many other big Russian cities. Reporters from around the world asked him all sorts of questions about weightlessness, being the first man in space, and just about everything else relating to his experience. (Breuer, 162) In the meantime, the Mercury Seven were very tense about their upcoming launch. What plagued their minds the most was the terrible fear that the Russians had succeeded and the US would not be second, but fail completely. Those fears were put to rest at 9:34 AM on May 5, 1961, when Alan Shepard was pushed down into his cockpit seat of Freedom 7 atop a fiery Redstone rocket that was carrying not only this man, but his entire nation, into the Space Age. It was a short flight, lasting less than 20 minutes, and it covered only a fraction of the distance of Gagarin in his Vostok 1 spacecraft. (Shepard, 116) America was now on the same playing field with the Russians, and everything remained fairly even for the next nine years. President John F. Kennedy challenged the US space program with a new goal on May 25, 1961: "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 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." (Anderson, 28) The Mercury Program was now scrapped after only a few flights, and the Gemini Program was instituted. Its goal was to test man's ability to be in outer space for extended periods of time. The Gemini capsules were also capable of holding two men, as opposed to the Mercury's one. After 12 flights, that program was also ended in favor of the Apollo Program, which was designed to take man to the moon. This three-person capsule first took flight on October 11, 1968 with Apollo 7. On March 27 of the following year, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to complete circumlunar (around the moon) flight. Then, on July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins blasted-off in Apollo 11 en route to the moon that has orbited our planet for the past two to three billion years. After four days of travel, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong lowered themselves into the lunar landing module, which they had named Eagle, and started their descent to the moon. After some redirection to avoid landing in the center of a crater, the Eagle made a soft landing on the lunar surface. Six hours later, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Mission Control in Houston heard him say: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" President Kennedy's dream had been reached, but no man could be as ecstatic as was Wernher von Braun. He was at Mission Control that day, and he got tears in his eyes as Armstrong prepared to take his step into history. Von Braun was responsible for the Saturn 5 rocket that brought America to the moon. It had always been a boyhood dream of his to reach the moon, but this was not a feat he could have accomplished by himself. It took two nations over 10 years of fierce competition to finally get a man to the moon, and that was just the beginning. The Russians and Americans experimented with keeping astronauts in orbit for months at a time during the 70's, and with the Russian launch of Space Station Mir in 1985, we knew that we were finally in space, and we were there to stay. Over 12 years later, Mir is still a functioning space station with both astronauts and cosmonauts living together in it. Construction for the new International Space Station will begin in 1998 should be complete by 2002. (http://station.nasa.gov) Plans are also in place to have humans on the planet Mars by 2009. Cooperation, not competition, will help write the next chapters in man's quest to reach the heavens. Bibliography Anderson, Frank W., Jr. Orders of Magnitude. Washington, D.C.: NASA, 1981. Breuer, William B. Race to the Moon, America's Duel with the Soviets. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1993. God. The Bible. Volume 1: Genesis. Mt. Sinai, Egypt: Moses Publications, 0. Newton, David E. U.S. and Soviet Space Programs, A Comparison. : Franklin Watts, 1988. Shepard, Alan and Deke Slayton. Moon Shot, The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Atlanta: Turner, 1994. "International Space Station Web." Assembly Sequence. http://station.nasa.gov(18 May, 1997). Please note: The form I found that describes the appropiate usage of World Wide Web pages in a bibliography is located at http://falcon.eku.edu/honors/beyond-mla/ , and is called "Beyond the MLA Handbook." Following is a direct quote form that page on how to correctly place a Web page in a bibliography: "To cite files available for viewing/downloading via the World Wide Web, give the author's name (if known), the full title of the work in quotation marks, the title of the complete work if applicable in italics, the full http address, and the date of visit."