1950s |

Probe Reaches The Moon - 9/14/1959

On September 14th of 1959, an unmanned space probe that had been launched by the Soviet government crashed into the moon. In so doing, it became the first man made object from planet earth to hit the moon. This gave the Soviets an edge in the so called “space race” of the era, and encouraged the United States government to further develop its own space program.

The space race started back in 1957, when the Soviet government got the world's attention by sending a satellite into orbit around the earth. The name of the satellite was Sputnik. Every radio and TV set was tuned in. The people of the United States were concerned during that cold war era that the Soviet government would develop new, inventive, high tech weapons, capable of firing ammunition from space. The United States Government was also concerned, as this event directly refuted their claim to the American people that they were edging out the Russians in the space race.

It was a stunning propaganda victory for the Soviets. Now the Soviets had the attention of the American people, not to mention lesser developed countries of the world who would see the benefits, and be drawn to the more advanced Soviet technology.

The United States government responded by paying closer attention to its own space program, recruiting engineers, and making more funding available for the research. The result was that a few months after Sputnik took orbit, The United States government sent its own satellite into orbit. This provoked a reply from the Soviet government.

In September of 1959, the Soviet government sent another rocket, this one carrying the Soviet flag, to the moon. This caused the United States government to inform the Soviet government that sending their flag to the moon does not make the moon their property. It was also pointed out by the American government (Vice President Nixon, to be exact) that it had taken the Soviets “four tries” to get it right. In a speech, Vice President Nixon announced that the United States was “way ahead” in the space race.

In 1960, Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy made the space race one of his campaign pledges. He guaranteed that the United States government would put an actual man on the actual moon, and would do so by the end of the actual decade.

Politicians make a lot of empty promises, but this one (however unbelievable) was not so empty after all.

In 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon, bouncing around in his lead space suit, as gravity threatened to lift him from the moon's surface at any moment, and fly him off into space. Every radio and TV set in the world had the moon landing on every radio and TV channel. What's more, almost every radio and TV set in the world were turned on.

When Neil Armstrong touched back down on God's green earth, he was hailed as a hero. 

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Mark Hinderberg

Writer

Retired History Professor at Vanderbilt University. Love taking a portal through time and sharing my knowledge with anyone else who loves reading about history. It is my passion and my greatest hobby.