Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

No more space race for US, rivalry gives way to collaboration
by Marissa Melton for VOA News
Washington DC (SPX) May 10, 2016

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA captured this brightly lit night image of the city of Chicago on April 5, 2016, from the International Space Station. Kopra (@astro_tim) wrote, "#Goodnight #Chicago from @Space_Station. #CitiesFromSpace".

While many Americans celebrate May 5 as Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of a Mexican military victory, science nerds recognize the date as a technological milestone: the day the United States first put a man into space.

In 1961, the year astronaut Alan Shepard Jr. made his milestone 15-minute flight, hysteria about the U.S.- Soviet Union space race was in full swing. Russia had already put a man in orbit and had launched the world's first artificial satellite, the Sputnik 1, in 1957, igniting fears that the United States was losing its status as the dominant world power.

The United States quickly assembled scientific teams that had been working on space travel; the race to achieve the first manned spaceflight was on. The new U.S. space agency was named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, and the manned spaceflight program was named the Mercury Project, after the Roman god of swift travel and transit between worlds.

First forays into space
Shepard, a U.S. Navy commander who had experience with aircraft test flights, was selected to pilot the first manned Mercury spacecraft. He wrote later that when he informed his wife he had been selected to become the first American to travel to space, she quipped: "Who let a Russian in here?"

But her presumption was right. Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin beat Shepard into space by one month, manning the Vostok 1 as it made one orbit around the earth April 12, 1961.

Shepard made his own historic journey three weeks later, in a less spectacular journey that went only 187 kilometers above the Earth and lasted only 15 minutes. But it was seen as an important milestone as the United States strove to catch up to its Cold War rival in technological innovation.

The competition continued throughout the 1960s, finally culminating with the U.S. moon landing on July 20, 1969. Shepard made his own journey to the moon on the third Apollo mission in 1971. Despite being one of the best known names in U.S. space travel, Shepard flew only two missions.

Cooperation on the new frontier
In the four decades between Shepard's last spaceflight, much has changed between the United States and its onetime rival in space.

With the 1998 launch of the International Space Station, pushing further into space has become a collaborative effort, including not just the United States and Russia, but also the European Union, China, and Japan. Over the years, at least 222 spaceflight technicians from 18 countries have worked together on long-term projects as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes.

In March of this year, U.S. Astronaut Scott Kelly returned from a one-year assignment in orbit on the space station as NASA scientists monitored the effects of long-term space travel on the human body. During that time his identical twin, former Astronaut Mark Kelly, acted as a control subject on Earth. NASA plans to monitor both men for the next year as it prepares for a new era of space exploration - one in which private industry plays a role.

Since the U.S. space shuttle program ended in 2011, the United States has depended on Russia for transportation to and from the space station on the Soyuz spacecraft - a mind-boggling reversal from the early, competitive days of space travel. But NASA has said it hopes to transfer that role to private U.S. companies as they develop suitable spacecraft.

Several U.S. companies are working on just that. This past weekend, the private firm SpaceX landed a rocket on an ocean platform for the second time, a signal that private industry is drawing nearer to becoming a major player in what has become a global space industry.

Its goal is to develop rockets that can be used for multiple launches rather than discarded after one use, as has been the standard in the past. SpaceX cofounder Elon Musk has said reusable rockets could greatly reduce the cost of space travel.

Musk swiftly shared his elation over the successful launch and recovery Friday with a tweet on social media, saying only "Woo-hoo!" He soon followed that message with one saying "May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar," meaning SpaceX would soon be storing its rockets rather than disposing of them.

Next Stop: Mars
Now, with the success of the space station, international collaboration is expected to continue as scientists pursue their next goal: the planet Mars.

In March, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and the European Space Agency launched a robotic exploratory mission meant to land on Mars in October. Private industry is not far behind: SpaceX has also declared its intention to send a craft to the red planet as soon as 2018. And U.S. President Barack Obama announced in 2010 that the U.S. hopes to send manned missions to Mars by the 2030s.

Over a half-century, what began as a struggle for dominance between two world powers has changed entirely. Limited space and resources may continue to cause tensions here on Earth, but the search for something beyond our planet is one common goal that helps preserve peace.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Michael Watkins Named Next JPL Director
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 06, 2016
Michael M. Watkins, the Clare Cockrell Williams Centennial Chair in Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Center for Space Research at The University of Texas at Austin, has been appointed director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president at Caltech, the Institute announced this week. Watkins will formally assume his position on July 1, 2016. He succeeds Charles Elachi, who ... read more

NASA research gives new insights into how the Moon got inked

First rocket made ready for launch at Vostochny spaceport

Supernova iron found on the moon

Russia to shift all Lunar launches to Vostochny Cosmodrome

Second ExoMars mission moves to next launch opportunity in 2020

Clues about Volcanoes Under Ice on Ancient Mars

Although Boiling, Water Does Shape Martian Terrain

Boiling water may be cause of Martian streaks: study

NASA Awards Contract for Aeronautics, Exploration Modeling, Simulation

NASA makes dozens of patents available in public domain

Michael Watkins Named Next JPL Director

US to move more assets into deep space over next 4 years

China's space technology extraordinary, impressive says Euro Space Center director

China can meet Chile's satellite needs: ambassador

China launches Kunpeng-1B sounding rocket

South China city gears up for satellite tourism

New landing date for ESA astronaut Tim Peake

Tim Peake goes roving

Russia delays space crew's return to Earth

15 years of Europe on the International Space Station

Date set for second SLS booster test

SpaceX successfully lands rockets first stage after space launch

SpaceX lands rocket's first stage after space launch

Agreement Signed for Airbus Safran Launchers

Scientists discover potentially habitable planets

MIT compiles list of potential gases to guide search for life on exoplanets

Three potentially habitable worlds found around nearby ultracool dwarf star

Light Echoes Give Clues to Protoplanetary Disk

Airbus Defence and Space to lead TeSeR, next EU project to clean up space

Anyone can try IBM's powerful quantum computer

Leonardo-Finmeccanica develops new E-scan radar

Cavitation intensity enhanced using pressure at bubble collapse region

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement