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  • On October 4, 1957,

  • the world watched in awe and fear

  • as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik,

  • the world's first man-made satellite,

  • into space.

  • This little metal ball,

  • smaller than two feet in diameter,

  • launched a space race

  • between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

  • that would last for eighteen years

  • and change the world as we know it.

  • Sputnik was actually not the first piece

  • of human technology to enter space.

  • That superlative goes to the V-2 rocket

  • used by Germany in missile attacks

  • against Allied cities as a last-ditch effort

  • in the final years of World War II.

  • It wasn't very effective,

  • but, at the end of the war,

  • both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. had captured

  • the technology and the scientists that had developed it

  • and began using them for their own projects.

  • And by August 1957,

  • the Soviet's successfully tested

  • the first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7,

  • the same rocket that would be used

  • to launch Sputnik two months later.

  • So, the scary thing about Sputnik

  • was not the orbiting ball itself,

  • but the fact that the same technology

  • could be used to launch a nuclear warhead at any city.

  • Not wanting to fall too far behind,

  • President Eisenhower ordered the Navy

  • to speed up its own project

  • and launch a satellite as soon as possible.

  • So, on December 6, 1957,

  • excited people across the nation

  • tuned in to watch the live broadcast

  • as the Vanguard TV3 satellite took off

  • and crashed to the ground two seconds later.

  • The Vanguard failure was a huge embarassment

  • for the United States.

  • Newspapers printed headlines like,

  • "Flopnik" and "Kaputnik."

  • And a Soviet delegate at the U.N. mockingly suggested

  • that the U.S. should receive foreign aid

  • for developing nations.

  • Fortunately, the Army had been working

  • on their own parallel project, The Explorer,

  • which was successfully launched in January 1958,

  • but the U.S. had barely managed to catch up

  • before they were surpassed again

  • as Yuri Gargarin became the first man in space

  • in April 1961.

  • Almost a year passed

  • and several more Soviet astronauts

  • completed their missions

  • before Project Mercury succeeded

  • in making John Glenn the first American

  • in orbit in February 1962.

  • By this time, President Kennedy had realized

  • that simply catching up

  • to each Soviet advance a few months later

  • wasn't going to cut it.

  • The U.S. had to do something first,

  • and in May 1961, a month after Gargarin's flight,

  • he announced the goal

  • of putting a man on the moon

  • by the end of the 1960s.

  • They succeeded in this through the Apollo program

  • with Neil Armstrong taking his famous step

  • on July 20, 1969.

  • With both countries' next turning their attention

  • to orbital space stations,

  • there's no telling how much longer

  • the space race could have gone on.

  • But because of improving relations

  • negotiated by Soviet Premier Leonid Breshnev

  • and U.S. President Nixon,

  • the U.S.S.R. and U.S. moved toward cooperation

  • rather than competition.

  • The successful joint mission,

  • known as Apollo-Soyuz,

  • in which an American Apollo spacecraft

  • docked with a Soviet Soyuz craft

  • and the two crews met,

  • shook hands,

  • and exchanged gifts,

  • marked the end of the space race in 1975.

  • So, in the end, what was the point

  • of this whole space race?

  • Was it just a massive waste of time?

  • Two major superpowers trying to outdo each other

  • by pursuing symbolic projects

  • that were both dangerous and expensive,

  • using resources that could have been

  • better spent elsewhere?

  • Well, sure, sort of,

  • but the biggest benefits of the space program

  • had nothing to do with one country beating another.

  • During the space race,

  • funding for research and education, in general,

  • increased dramatically,

  • leading to many advances

  • that may not have otherwise been made.

  • Many NASA technologies developed for space

  • are now widely used in civilian life,

  • from memory foam in mattresses

  • to freeze-dried food,

  • to LEDs in cancer treatment.

  • And, of course, the satellites that we rely on

  • for our GPS and mobile phone signals

  • would not have been there

  • without the space program.

  • All of which goes to show

  • that the rewards of scientific research and advancement

  • are often far more vast

  • than even the people pursuing them can imagine.

On October 4, 1957,

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TED-ED】宇宙開発競争に勝ったのは誰か? - ジェフ・スティアーズ (【TED-Ed】Who won the space race? - Jeff Steers)

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    陳劭杰 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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