They Once Put a Man on the Moon, But Are We Being Left Behind Now? The U.S.’s Heart-Stopping Struggle in the Modern Space Race

A deep look into the night sky with all the stars is calming. With all the fuss in our surroundings, we see a place with all the peace. However, that isn’t exactly the case.

Space wars are nothing new, and the race for space supremacy goes back several decades. Space will be just as significant in this century as it was in the last one as a battlefield.

It was transformed into a battlefield during the Cold War’s Space Race. With increased involvement from the private and commercial sectors, the space market has become increasingly complicated and diverse in recent years.

Let’s dig in to learn more about the space conflicts and conquests.

Looking into the past

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The 20th-century Cold War’s competition for superiority in aerospace capabilities continued in the space race. The USSR and the U.S. conducted a missile-based armaments competition in WWII that was the origin of the rivalry in space.

For national security, technological dominance was crucial. Extreme friction between the two superpowers heated the space race further. It, however, quickly turned into a source of increased strife.

National leaders in both nations saw the political potential of space exploration and started substantially funding missions. Battles fought on the ground were significant, but winning the skies was a method to demonstrate one’s undisputed superiority to everyone on Earth.

The Space Race was always a continuation of this ideological conflict between the two countries. The race to establish itself as the only superpower ultimately occurred in space between the United States and the then-Soviet Union.

Pursuing the Stars

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Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite and artificial object to enter Earth’s orbit, was launched by the USSR on October 4, 1957, ushering in the Space Age. The effects of this incident on people were profound. The Soviet Union made significant advancements, including delivering the first spacecraft, probe, the first spacecraft, Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the Earth, and numerous others.

This guaranteed that the Soviets would triumph on many different fronts. The U.S. took steps to launch two space missions focused on national security. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was officially established in 1958. A turning point in the space race occurred when President John F. Kennedy officially stated their plan to put a man on the moon.

Stepping onto the Moon

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Other nations, including Canada, France, China, and Japan, launched rockets and satellites into space throughout the 1960s and 1970s. However, the Apollo program, which NASA initiated, was the most astounding and fascinating event in human history. John F. Kennedy’s well-known “Moon Speech” national objective was achieved in 1969.

Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history when they made the first human landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, during the Apollo 11 mission. After four days since their launch, they strolled on the surface. Neil Armstrong was the first astronaut to leave his lunar module, making him the first man even though three astronauts were involved in this mission (Michael Collins remained on board in lunar orbit).

It was unquestionably the pinnacle in this race to the moon and stars. Additionally, it ensured that the U.S. would win the Cold War Space Race. Many people saw Armstrong’s lunar landing as the culmination of this conflict. Early in the 1970s, during the “detente” era, relations between the two nations improved.

Leading to the Present Century

Space competition was no longer a top priority for the U.S. due to the evolving danger scenario of the twenty-first century and the rise of terrorism. China’s ascent and Russia’s comeback were made possible at this time.

Both the American civil and military space programs suffered. Although it continued to hold the top spot in the world, the new players made it less dominant. NASA’s spending has decreased throughout the 1990s, but there has been a rise in private and commercial space investment.

However, the spatial domain under President Donald J. Trump saw significant modifications. Among the significant developments was the founding of the U.S. Space Force. The government of Joe Biden declared its support for this. Russia has resumed efforts to recapture its past space prowess. Under Vladimir Putin, the country’s GPS (GLANOSS) was revived, military constellation gaps were filled, and many counter-space programs were initiated.

China Joins the Race Big-Time

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China began constructing its program in 1950 but had not taken part in the space competition. It began to show signs of being a budding space power in the 1980s. After several unsuccessful crewless missions, China finally sent its first taikonaut (a Chinese astronaut) to space in 2003. This was the third instance in which a nation successfully launched a person into Earth’s orbit and ensured their safe return.

India, Japan, and France are currently among the powerful space actors. Like the U.S. Space Force, France has its own French Space Command. The European Space Agency is another organization that allowed the nations of Europe to create their technology.

The Corporate Race

The private sector has also played a significant role in altering space activity. Top private firms researching the space industry include Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s Space X, which are working hard to start their own space missions.

SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have already partnered with NASA, and such cooperation will take place more frequently. Nonetheless, the public and private partnerships still have to evolve further in the space race.

The Direction of the Future

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America remains the world leader in absolute space power capabilities despite its historical performance lagging due to a stagnant NASA budget. These cutting-edge start-ups are already creating new services and goods for the space market. Companies like SpaceX have already made successful launches.

Private firms are currently among the space players. Hence, warfare in this future race would be complicated due to the many actors. The U.S. is still the better actor because China and Russia rely heavily on the U.S. for space technology.

These countries’ intricate connection creates a convoluted picture. But if a war did break out, like in the Cold War, the combatants would stop at nothing to further their goals. However, this time, the stakeholders wouldn’t be just countries but also multinational corporations like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin.

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