It was the R-7 rocket, which was destined to carry the first artificial satellite into orbit (RussianSpaceWeb. com, “ The 20th Century” ). The Sputnik-1 launched on October 4, 1957, was a Soviet-made star in the sky was to capture the world’ s imagination. Successful launch of the Sputnik was a step in the effort made by the Soviets to overcome United States supremacy. Sputnik-2 followed the successful deployment of Sputnik-1 in November 1957 carrying a dog by the name of Laika into space. The success of the Sputnik missions at a when US efforts were suffering from failures paved the way for manned missions into space and the quest for the exploration of the moon.
Later, two dogs, Belka and Strelka became the first animals to return to earth from space after a journey aboard the Vostok spacecraft and Uri Gagarin was to become the first man to spend 108 minutes in space on board the same type of Spacecraft. The Soviet Union was to achieve all the firsts in cosmonautics, except for the first man on the moon, a accomplished by the United States of America (Harvey, “ The Rebirth of the Russian Space Program” , pp.
ix – x). The firsts consisted of the first satellite in orbit, the first animal in orbit, the first laboratory in orbit, the first probe to the moon, the first photographs of the far side of the moon, the first soft-landing on the moon, the first man in space, the first women in space and the first spacewalk. Thus, space exploration was a serious undertaking in the former Soviet Union and the motivation such efforts may well have been political, but a desire existed to develop new technology that could provide the Soviet Union with a competitive edge.
Efforts made by Soviet scientists had captured the imagination of its political elite and the masses. A desire had existed to ensure that Russia left its mark on the human civilization (Harvey, “ The Rebirth of the Russian Space Program” , pp. 7). During The Cold War era, a spirit of competition with the United States and its allies also contributed to the efforts directed towards exploration of space (Zimmerman, pp.
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