50 years of Space Exploration
What did Ptolemy, Stephen Hawking, and Captain Kirk all have in common? They were
all extremely inquisitive about space. Since the beginning of time, the human race has been curious about what lay among the stars. Curiosity for space was visible even in ancient times.
From Galileo to John F. Kennedy, interest never ceased. In the past fifty years, it has become possible for us to actually explore space. I think that space exploration has developed more rapidly in the past 50 years than in any other time period in history.
While most remember the 1960s as the "hippie decade" with icons such as Twiggy and the Beatles, it was actually the most important decade for the means of space exploration. The 1960s is when the famous Space Race began. The Space Race was a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. The race was based on who could explore farther into space before the other country. It was an extremely important factor in contributing to the cold war as well. When John F. Kennedy got elected as the 35th president, he set a goal for the nation to launch a man to the moon by the end of the decade ("Space Exploration"). At the beginning of 1961, the Soviet Union launched its first man into space, Yuri Gagarin. A month later, the United States launched its first American in space. This was a big deal because the United States was finally catching up to the Soviet Union's advancements. However, in 1963, after President John F. Kennedy got assassinated and famous astronaut Theodore Freeman died in a plane crash, things started to look grim for the Americans. Many citizens were depressed and did not care for the project anymore. By 1966, the Soviet Union had already landed its first man-made spacecraft on the moon. The United States became very pressed to send a man to the moon and beat Russia ("History. com"). Finally, on July 20th, 1969, only a couple of months before the cutoff to stop space exploration, the United States successfully landed two astronauts on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This marked a victory for the United States and was the reason for Neil Armstrong's world-famous quote, "It's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." A really significant effect that the Space Race had was that it got people more interested and involved in space. Without the race, NASA would not have received the generous funds back then to develop the Hubble Space Telescope and Columbia, the first shuttle ( "Societal Impact of the Space Age").
As the Space Race ended, the '70s began. Unfortunately, Space exploration in the 70's and the '80s decreased significantly due to financial burdens. Space exploration cost a lot of money, and the economy was not in great shape, especially since the United States was spending a galore amount of money on the Vietnam War. The spending on the space program exceeded the amount of money that...