The seeds of space exploration were first sewn in 1939, it was in this year that both Germany and the USSR first began rocket projects. During the war both the USSR and Germany used short range rockets to attack enemy cities. In November 1946 Germany surrendered and was occupied by the USA, who inherited all of Germany's rocket programme. The period between 1946 and 1950 saw a frenzied interest in intercontinental ballistic missiles, particularly their use in transporting nuclear weapons to their targets.
On June 22 1947 the Soviet Union's X12 rocket was able to send an unmanned module into space and recover it upon its return to earth. This came as a great shock to the USA, which thought itself years ahead with its rocketry. On June 30 President Dewey addressed the nation, and expressed his opinion that the US, should form a national space agency, this was a dream that wouldn't be realised for another ten years. However the US was to achieve one great goal. On January 4, 1951 they launched the first artificial satellite, Washington 1. From 1951 to 1953 a further 9 Washington class military satellites were put into orbit. In 1952 the Soviet Union launched its own satellite.
But in 1953 MacArthur became President, he dismissed the US Satellite programme (known as Operation Bluesky) as a waste of time that will not help the USA win the cold war. Instead the next four years were a bad time for the US space effort. But the USSR pushed ahead with its plans, its satellite launches became more frequent and satellite designs became more complicated. In 1955 it put a dog inside one of these satellites, followed in 1956 by a monkey. In November 1956 it attempted to launch the first man into space, however the rocket exploded on the launch pad (this was covered up from the public and so nobody knew how close the USSR came to winning the space race until 1990).
In 1957 however Eisenhower became president. This entered the US into a new era of liberal republicanism that was keen to embrace the progressivism related with space travel. NASA was founded as a successor to the National Space Agency. In 1960 the US put astronaut Bugs Wade into space, making him the first human to leave the earths atmosphere, this was followed in January 1961 by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The race was now on to put a man on the moon, president Kennedy wanted this to be achieved by 1968, however many of his advisors stated that it would be impossible to put a man on the moon before 1970, and that this would be extremely expensive. In the USSR, Molotov was not as keen to take part in such activities, and reputedly claimed "how will putting a man, further away from soviet union than any other man, benefit socialism". However the leader of the soviet space programme, Sergei Korolev was able to convince him, and in December 1961 Molotov gave permission for him to send small probes to make preparations for a possible landing.
|August 10, 1944||First Nazi A-4 rocket reaches the edge of space|
|November 26, 1944||Soviet X3 rocket reaches the edge of space|
|January 5, 1947||US begins launching A-6 intercontinental ballistic missiles against Japanese mainland|
|June 22, 1947||Soviet X12 rocket reaches space and is recovered upon reentry|
|May 1, 1948|