News electric cars improving efficiency, and spaceNews electric cars improving efficiency, and space

News broadcasting around the world, directions with a single tap on a screen, electric cars improving efficiency, and space probes venturing to interstellar space : these are just some of the luxuries enjoyed by the world today. Most of the innovations made in the past fifty to sixty years and those still to come are a consequence of the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1 which commenced a race to the moon. From that moment on, America adopted a competitive mindset towards space exploration and technology. There was a large amount of pressure placed on the government to increase funding in science and technology in schools and in research. By drastically changing Americans’ attitudes towards space and accelerating progress in science and engineering, the launch of Sputnik 1 significantly transformed American society in many areas, including space exploration, military, transportation, medicine, and entertainment.As if there was not already enough tension between the United States and Russia at the time of the Cold War, the Space Race seemed to add fuel to the blazing fire. The Cold War, from 1947 to 1991, ignited not only an economic and political power struggle between Capitalism and Socialism, but also a competition for militaristic and technological superiority (“Space Race”). The Space Race was a period within the Cold War where the two world powers challenged one another’s technological abilities, each with the goal of landing a man on the moon. The Space Race began the moment the Soviet Union launched Earth’s first artificial satellite – Sputnik 1. The Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile launched Sputnik 1, or “fellow traveller”,  into Earth’s orbit on October 4, 1957, and America would never be the same (“Space Race” ; Schaff).While the Soviets rejoiced their wondrous feat, the launch of Sputnik 1 severely wounded America’s pride in its technological history and success. The nation whose Manhattan Project introduced the first atomic bomb to modern warfare and who gave prominence to remarkable men such as Edison and Ford had been surpassed by a proficient competitor (Launius). Even more damaging came the launch of Sputnik 2, whose passenger was a dog named Laika, and their efforts only escalated from there. Eight more satellites carried animals into space until the Soviets felt satisfied with their life support system (Schaff). Not only were the Russians’ achievements embarrassing to the United States, but they also threatened Americans. Even though the missile launchers used to launch Sputnik were too undeveloped for military use, Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, claimed that the USSR was mass producing long-range missiles, sending widespread fear throughout America of a supposed “missile gap”(Schaff). The American reaction to Sputnik 1 and 2 and the claims made by Khrushchev resembled the reaction of Pearl Harbor in 1941 (Dickson). The headlines amplified the pressure on the situation, and slowly, with increased funding in science and technology, a newfound unity, confidence, and determination emerged to take on the challenge.     For President Dwight D. Eisenhower, this crisis ensured a large amount of pressure, but ultimately, it gave him a longstanding legacy. Americans blamed Eisenhower for allowing the USSR to surpass them, and in response, he focused government attention on research in science and technology. He helped start Project Vanguard and the Explorer Program to launch an American satellite into Earth’s orbit. Later, he went on to establish a more permanent agency with the primary focus of the exploration of space, which has come to be known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA (Launius). The United States continued on this track, and in 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a passionate and inspiring speech promising to send men to the moon (“Space Race”). The United States and USSR competed back in forth, pouring money into their lunar missions. The USSR sent the first man into orbit, Yuri Gagarin, but the United States’ Apollo Program trailed close behind. Within only months, NASA had sent Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, on successful missions. The next challenge for both nations was the moon. On July 20, 1969, the United States, in essence, “won” the Space Race when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed on the moon and spoke those historic words remembered to this day : “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” (“Space Race” ; Armstrong). A giant leap it would surely be.     The United States entered a new era – the Space Age. People looked on with wonder and awe, hopeful for the “world of tomorrow” brought by new technology. People believed in a new era for the middle class, where the technologies once reserved for the most wealthy would become more accessible and common. Automobiles, for example, once belonged only to the richest members of the population (Dickson). With new advances, slowly, more families were able to purchase cars than ever before. In 1980, the United States saw that 87.2 % of households owned at least one motor vehicle and 51.5% owned more than just one (“Automobile”). The world of technology transformed the nation and brought Americans into modern times. On top of that, there emerged a newfound interest in space and astronautics. One could make the argument that the United States would have never gone to the moon if it were not for the competitive spirit of the Space Race. The lunar program gained support from the general public, and therefore, the elected officials (Dickson). People idolized men like Neil Armstrong as American heroes, and many current aeronauts, astronauts, and cosmonauts were first inspired during this time of Sputnik and the Space Race. With television being more common, it enabled people to watch the launches broadcasted and witness history being made before their eyes (“Space Race”; Dickson). “Winning” the Space Race allowed Americans to regain their national pride and their hope for the future. The sudden boost in government funding for science and technology brought some of the most important developments, including microelectronics. This field of technology is responsible for the computers and phones that the world is obsessed with and dependent on today (Dickson). In addition, this increase in funding placed more focus on STEM in schools and in careers. The most significant effects on American society came about with the creation and funding of NASA in response to Sputnik. Numerous technological devices and systems developed from adaptations astronauts and scientists made when going to space. Some of the most common and everyday appliances and devices trace back to NASA, which may never have been created or as important as it is today if not for the pressure put on the United States after Sputnik 1 (“20 Things”). An area that saw great improvement from this boost in technology was health and medicine. Such improvements include light-emitting diode lights, or LEDs. Scientists first used LEDs in space shuttles to experiment plant growth in space, but now, many use them in lighting homes and in numerous medical devices (“Technologies” ; “20 Things”). Quantum Devices Inc. makes one device, called the WARR 10, which relieves muscle or joint pain, arthritis, and increased blood circulation. This device also helps the United States Department of Defense and the United States Navy to aid their soldiers on the front line. The WARR 75 is another device that relieves pain in bone marrow transplants, and it will become critical to defeating bone atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (“Technologies”). Another example includes NASA’s improvements in robotics and shock-absorption materials that allow for the development of prostheses for animals and humans. Artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing aid in developing more functional artificial limbs (“20 Things”). In addition, the same infrared technology NASA uses to measure the temperature of stars and planets enables ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors to measure the temperature emitted by the eardrum. This allows for fast measurements for newborns and the critically ill (“Technologies” ; “20 Things”). Thankfully, due to the introduction of NASA, American lives improve more each day, and the world draws closer to making all lives more comfortable and healthier.     Some of the developments made by NASA after Sputnik affect everyday transportation as well. NASA’s invention of safety grooves, originally made for aircraft runways, increases traction and prevents accidents on wet highways, parking lots, sidewalks, and steps (“Technologies”). In addition, NASA worked with Small Business Innovation Research to develop a system of thermoelectric deicing, called Thermawing, for single engine aircrafts to fly through potentially hazardous ice conditions (“Technologies”). Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company also helped NASA develop a material five times stronger than steel to parachute two space probes, Viking 1 and Viking 2, on Mars. Goodyear saw the potential in this material and how its increased strength and durability could be used to improve their tires (“Technologies”). NASA’s research and technological advances have and will continue to improve transportation in America by making systems and vehicles safer and more durable.     Another important area impacted by the advancements in technology during the Space Age is in safety devices and systems. The same Video Image Stabilization and Registration, or VISAR, Technology used by NASA to analyze video has become a critical tool for law enforcement, security applications, and the military. Its benefits include support of full resolution digital footage, stabilization, frame-by-frame analysis, and increased visibility of filmed subjects without changing the underlying footage (“Technologies”). NASA also experimented with fire-retardant paints and foams on aircrafts, and this led to the creation of a intumescent epoxy material that acts as an insulator and dispels heat through burnoff. A common example of this technology is steel coatings, which are used as a stable insulating layer over the steel on high rise buildings and other public structures for 4 hours of fire protection. Consequently, this allows time for an evacuation in the case of a fire (“Technologies”). Other safety systems or devices that originated with NASA’s programs are the materials and equipment used by firefighters. This includes the breathing apparatus masks worn to protect firefighters from inhaling smoke and the two-way radio communication used during a fire to coordinate hose lines, rescue victims, and increase overall efficiency. Another common technology used everyday is memory foam, which NASA first used in aircrafts and spacecrafts to prevent injuries (“Technologies”). Today, NASCAR uses memory foam in their cars for impact protection, and it is commonly used in pillows, automobiles, amusement park rides, and furniture for comfort and protection. Many people do not realise that these important Space Age technologies continue to aid Americans in everyday life and safety.    Another widely used and beloved technology that stood at the focal point of the Space Age was satellite technology. Many of the luxuries Americans enjoy today are traced back to satellites (Borenstein). People turn on the television and see events happening on the other half of the world. GPS can help someone easily travel to their desired locations. Meteorologists forecast weather allowing people to flee from impending hurricanes and get their families to safety. These essential benefits resulted from the satellite technologies of the Space Age. Spy satellites also enabled the United States to know its enemies’ whereabouts and capabilities (Borenstein). Most conflicts at the time of the Cold War were caused by mutual paranoia regarding the enemy’s actions and abilities. However, Eisenhower was able to establish spy satellite surveillance of other nations in an “Open Skies” policy by not protesting Sputnik as a threat to American sovereignty, ending that dangerous paranoia. Satellites have engraved themselves into American culture, and they lie at the heart of this era of entertainment, communication, and information.     The area that may have benefitted the most from Sputnik and the Space Race is the military. After Sputnik, Eisenhower and the United States vowed at that moment to be the pioneers or initiators of further strategic technological developments rather than the victims (“DARPA”). The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, was founded in the 1950’s to fulfill that promise. This is the agency notably responsible for creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET, which became the foundation for the Internet that it so important to Americans today (Krauthammer). In addition, their contributions to the United States’ military include increased capabilities in stealth technology and precision weaponry. DARPA’s research significantly transformed the country’s military capabilities by bringing the nation into a technological revolution focused on defense and lethality (“DARPA”). A new focus on missile defense programs arose and gave prominence to such companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, and Northrop Grumman (Dickens). Missile defense programs have become particularly important in America’s fight against new enemies in the Middle East – in places such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and North Korea. The military turns to these aerospace companies for fire power and spy technology (Dickens). The funding these aerospace companies received as a result of Sputnik and the Space Age certainly contributed to forming the well known and uncomparable military power of the United States. .    The launch of Sputnik 1 which pitted the United States and the Soviet Union against each other in a race to send men to space sparked a technological revolution that would forever change the nation in military, science, medicine, transportation, and entertainment. There are so many things that came about as a result of the Space Race. Without this competitive spirit, there is no telling what the world would be like today. Americans are truly living in the world created by that beach ball sized, metal sphere launched into Earth’s orbit 60 years ago which, ultimately, brought the world into a new era of technology.