Sputnik and the Technological Factor

Sputnik had a far greater impact on American technology than it has been credit for in the past. It may have been the first man-made object to orbit the earth, a fact that overshadowed the contributions of other nations  involved in the IGY and damaged American pride, but it forced Americans to reevaluate their academic standards. The push for more STEM students underscored a renewed enthusiasm for American technical superiority. At the time, though, Americans might have viewed it as their civic duty to augment the scientific community and assure their place in the world as technological power. Today, we see sputnik as the first step in the exploration of space. It fostered the growth of engineering and scientific study and rapidly produced a large number of secondary technologies that have trickled into other technologies.

The prospect that technology is the result human imagination is another area to consider. The science fiction realm became much less far fetched once rockets began sending up people; in the years that followed, the vision of imaginary technologies in books and film became reality as the space race pushed for a greater degree of technical prowess. We can see that today, the technology we take for granted might only have existed in the mind of writers fifty years ago. What is the possibility that these things might have sprang up out of necessity if there was no pretext for it in the past? If that is the case, then what does the future hold for us now? What will the world look like fifty years hence?

History Cooperative contributors. “Sputnik: A Brief History of the Dawn of the Space Race.” History Cooperative, September 14, 2016. http://historycooperative.org/sputnik-a-brief-history-of-the-dawn-of-the-space-race/.

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