Archive for November, 2013


To Space

on November 18, 2013 in Uncategorized 7 Comments »

 

One of the most memorable events to ever happen in human history was the moon landing that occurred in the 1960’s This was one of the most memorable events in the history of the United States and it also officially ended the race to the moon launched by John F. Kennedy. I distinctly remember learning about this moon landing and the quote “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” however we never really learned about the first man in space.

This man’s name was Iurii Gagarin he was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. Due to the fact he derived from the USSR we as Americans never really learned about this man. In the 1960’s, Iurii Gagarin was chosen from the Russian countryside along with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six, from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok program would be chosen. During this selection process Gagarin excelled and soon became the chose one to endure the travel to space.

Thus Gagarin ventured into space on April 1961 becoming the first human to not only trek into space but also became the first human to ever orbit the earth. In doing this Gagarin became a space race hero. Though this was a success not many people know that this success was a culmination of the countless years of failure and experimentation that occurred within the Soviet space program. His space venture was not soon forgotten by the Russian people, he was instead immortalized. Due to being “raised in the Russian countryside during the Great Patriotic War, and plucked from his village by the space program as trainee, Gagarin embodied the opportunities abundant in Soviet society for the Russians who readily identified with him.” He also became a worldwide celebrity traveling all over the world promoting the Soviet Union’s accomplishment of being the first to put a human into space.

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and three days later they dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Though these weapons effectively ended World War II, little did they know that the atomic arms race was just beginning. Than just four years later on August 29, 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested their first atomic bomb. The explosion, watched by Lavrentii Beria and Igor Kurchatov, frightened the United States due to the fact the Soviet Union built this deadly weapon in only four years. This made many believe that the Soviet Union had spies within the Manhattan project. Thus, countless scientist where put on trial in 1950 and many other scientist including the creator of the Atomic bomb were accused of being spies.

Than in 1953 another bomb was dropped, known as the “Layer-Cake Bomb” due to its interact alteration of uranium and nuclear material, which created and explosion 30 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Even though the United States dropped their first and more powerful atomic bomb just a year earlier, fear still gripped the United States due to the fact the atomic bomb dropped by the Soviet Union was of an original Soviet design by Kurchatov and Sakharov.

This continuous atomic bomb research and testing would lead to the formation of the Hydrogen bomb by both super powers. The H-bomb, also known as a thermonuclear bomb, is the strongest and most lethal weapon ever created. On October 1961 the Soviet Union detonated the Tsar Bomba which is the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated with a blast yield of 50 to 58 megatons of TNT. During the Cold War the atomic arms race was in full sprint with both super powers developing enough thermonuclear weapons to destroy the world two times over. The buildup of atomic weapons and the firm belief of Mutual Assured destruction became the cornerstone on which every political and economic decision was made. Thus one could easily say the atomic arms race was the defining cornerstone of the Cold War.

Sources

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1954bomb&Year=1954&navi=byYear

Soviets test “Layer-Cake” bomb: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-test-layer-cake-bomb

 

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