Sputnik - 60 years on from the Start of the Space Race

Sputnik – 60 years on from the Start of the Space Race

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That simple little beep, beep, beep was the sound that started the Space Race. It was heard for the first time 60 years ago, when, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into a low Earth orbit. It was only a metal ball, 22 inches or about 56 centimetres in diameter, with four antennae sticking out of it – but it had an impact far greater than its size. In fact, it changed the course of human history. The idea of a satellite was first raised in an engineering memo written by Mikhail Tikhonravov in 1954 whilst …

How the First Spacewalk Nearly Ended in Disaster - Alexei Leonov Voskhod 2

How the First Spacewalk Nearly Ended in Disaster – Alexei Leonov Voskhod 2

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When Alexey Leonov made the world’s first spacewalk in 1965, it was hailed as yet another great success for the USSR in the space race against America. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the west found out that while it may well have been made to look like a success by the Soviet Press, it was, in fact, it was teetering on the edge of disaster from the moment Leonov stepped out of the airlock till the crew were rescued from a desolate location in a frozen forest. In 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth …

Did the Real 'Star Wars' Bankrupt the USSR?

Did Reagan’s Real Star Wars Bankrupt the Soviet Union ?

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In the 1980’s science fact and science fiction looked as if they might become one when the American President Ronald Reagan announced the ‘Strategic Defence Initiative’ or ‘Star Wars’ missile defence system. The program was designed to break the nuclear deadlock between the US and Soviets and move beyond the threat of M.A.D. or Mutual Assured Destruction. But did the nuclear physicist Edward Teller over-sell the idea to Ronald Reagan and only tell him what he wanted to hear? Even as the world reacted to America’s new defence plan, Teller’s theories remained decades away from forming a working weapon. So …

Why Russia Did Not Put a Man on the Moon - The Secret Soviet Moon Rocket

Why Russia Did Not Put a Man on the Moon – The Secret Soviet Moon Rocket

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It’s probably the most well known peacetime battle between the USA and the Soviet Union, in both technological and ideological terms of the 20th century. Although the USA won the race to the moon, if you’d been a betting person from the mid 1950’s to 1960’s, the chances are that you would have thought the Soviet Union had a very good chance of getting there first. So why didn’t Russia put a man on the moon? At the time the soviets were leading the space race, they had already started with the launch of Sputnik, then launched several probes to …