• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.



Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago

On July 20th, 1969, the United States landed a spacecraft by the name of Eagle on the face of the moon. Aboard were two men by the name of Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. As the spacecraft commander, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to a very dramatic landing on the lunar surface with about 14 second of fuel left aboard the vessel. Finally, Armstrong and Aldrin made their historic walk on the surface of an alien landscape, stating the famous words, “One small step for man...one giant leap for mankind.” But how were these two men able to make the journey of a quarter million miles to earth’s distant moon? More importantly, the cost of the Apollo Project, the project that sent American astronauts to the moon, was $25.4 billion, or $135 billion of today’s money. Materialistically, the total amount of moon “rocks” brought back was 841.5 pounds. This makes every pound of moon “rocks” worth $30.2 million. When looked at in an economical sense, this is a terrible investment. The main reason that American astronauts were sent to the moon, that moon “rocks” were retrieved, and finally so much money was spent on this endeavour was not solely in the name of exploration, but because of the political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.


The dawn of the Second World War brought a new type of war that would be fought until the early 1990's; {Change the semicolon to a colon.} The Cold War. The Cold War was a conflict over ideas about capitalism versus communism and which one was a better national economic system. The United States is a capitalist society where businesses are owned by the people of the public. In Soviet Russia, communism was the economic system where the government owns all of the businesses and everyone was guaranteed a job in soviet system. In the vacuum left by the fall of the Third Reich, and Adolph Hilter’s defeated country, the Soviet Union and the United States, once allies against Hitler, now became enemies on a world-wide scale.


One of the rivalries that existed was the technological and scientific race that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States. There were several categories of rivalries, including military and space technologies. Since the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb in August of 1949, the race to build more nuclear missiles than the other was underway. Eventually, both countries possessed enough nuclear warheads to wipe each other out hundreds of times over. On the other side of the rivalry was space technology.


On October 5, 1957, America was awoken to the news that the Russians had put an artificial satellite into orbit the day prior. This is was giant leap in technology for the Russian. This presented the possibility that communist Russia might be superior to the American capitalist system. This event also opened the eyes of many people in the American military. The Soviet Union had placed a satellite into orbit around the earth meaning that if the Russians can put a satellite around the earth, they can send a nuclear warhead to any place on the face of the planet.


Obviously this sent alarms throughout Washington because national security, and pride, were at stake. From this point on, large pools of money were made available in the yearly budgets to pour money into rocket programs that were being conducted from within the United States. Unfortunately, American rocket programs were not performing very well, at all. The United Stated drafted the help of Werner Von Braun, the German rocket scientist who designed and developed the highly-successful V-2 rocket that was responsible for thousands of deaths in English cities. With his help, the United States developed the first truly successful rocket that can carry satellites, and later people, into space; the Redstone.


On December 6th, 1957, the United States launched its first Satellite into orbit: Vanguard 1. With this event, the United States seemed to still be in the race into space. On April 12, 1961, Russia was the first country in the world to launch a human being into space with the launching of Vostok 1. Yuri Gagarin, the commander and sole occupant of the spacecraft, made several orbits of the earth before finally coming back to earth. Relatively soon after, on May 5th, 1961, Alan Shepard was blasted into space on a 15 minute sub-orbital flight aboard a Mercury space capsule and a Redstone rocket. It was obvious for many Americans that the United States was not that far behind the Russians, but the fact still remained that the United States was still behind.


Now known to the American public as the “Space Race,” President Kennedy decided to “up the ante.” On September 12, 1962, in front of a crowd at Rice University, President Kennedy made a historic speech about the future of the American space program. During the speech, few words would live in infamy as the words spoken by President John F. Kennedy that day.


“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” ( JFK, 1961)


This quote is simply stating that, yes, going to the moon is a hard feat to accomplish, but America has a responsibility to go to the moon, and will, in fact, beat the Russians there. With this speech, the “Space Race” for the moon, was charged full speed ahead, with only having sent a man into a 15-minute sub-orbital flight. Essentially, President Kennedy wrote NASA, the space agency in charge of manned space flight, a “blank check,” allowing them to spend all of the money they needed to get American Astronauts astronauts to the moon.


Over the next several years, many different types of rockets and space “machines” were built to allow human beings to survive the rigorous nature of space travel. Eventually, a design by the now-famous german rocket scientists, Werner Von Braun was built and decided on as the vehicle to take American men to the moon: the gigantic Saturn V rocket. The only problem with this rocket and its components: an enormous $83 million price tag. Even during that time, $83 million was an astronomical amount of money to spend on anything, much less a space vehicle. Why did they spend this much money developing this rocket? Simple put: national pride and defense. With every successful launch of a rocket, new technologies were invented and proven.


One of the biggest leaps in technology was that of computers. The Apollo spacecraft required computers to be crammed into the space of a small telephone booth, but powerful enough guide a spacecraft accurately over a half-million miles. One of the most intriguing fact is that the computer that this paper is being written on has over 100 times the computing capacity of any of the apollo guidance computers used to care for the lives of the Apollo astronauts. This size, complexity, and power in a computer was unheard of in the 1960's and the Apollo space program was a trailblazer in computer technology.


Eventually, as many know, the United States, did, in fact, beat the Soviet Union to the Moon. The Russians had several mishaps where many people were killed trying to advance their cosmonauts to the lunar surface. Eventually after the United States landed, the Russians gave up in their quest for space supremacy. With this victory under the United States’ belt, the Cold War had come that much closer to a final ending. No, the victory of landing a man on the moon was not the decisive victory on the war against communism, but it did remind the world that capitalism was a strong, and very viable type of economy. The United States eventually was victorious with the final collapse of communism in 1989, turning the Soviet Union into a democratic state. It takes many battles to win a war, wether it be a hot war, technology war, or a space race. One of the largest battles against communism was the fight for the moon landing, and that was yet another victory that American so-desperately needed.


{The citations should be worked into the text so that someone could track down the information. The only citatiion as it stands is the JFK quotation, but there's no information for it below.}




"Project Apollo." Wikipedia. 13 Mar. 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program>.


"Various Articles." Thespacerace. 13 Mar. 2006 <http://www.thespacerace.com/>.


United Stated of America. Office of Public Information. Nasa. Apollo Program (1963-1972). 13 Mar. 2006 .

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.