Sputnik crisis

The Sputnik crisis was a period of public fear and anxiety in Western nations about the perceived technological gap between the United States and Soviet Union caused by the Soviets' launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite.[1] The crisis was a key event in the Cold War that triggered the creation of NASA and the Space Race between the two superpowers. The satellite was launched on October 4, 1957, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Sputnik asm
Replica of Sputnik 1


The United States was the dominant world power in the early 1950s. Lockheed U-2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union provided intelligence that the U.S. held the advantage in nuclear capability.[2][3] However, an education gap was identified when studies conducted between 1955 and 1961 reported that the Soviet Union was training two to three times as many scientists per year as the United States.[4] The launch and orbit of Sputnik 1 suggested that the USSR had made a substantial leap forward in technology, which was interpreted as a serious threat to U.S. national security. This spurred the United States to make substantial federal investments in research and development, education and national security.[2] The Juno I rocket that carried the first U.S. satellite Explorer 1 had been ready to launch in 1956, but that fact was classified and unknown to the public.[5] The Army's PGM-19 Jupiter from which Juno was derived had been mothballed on the orders of defense secretary Charles Erwin Wilson amid interservice rivalry with the U.S. Air Force's PGM-17 Thor.[5]


The USSR used ICBM technology to launch Sputnik into space. This gave the Soviets two propaganda advantages over the U.S. at once: the capability to send the satellite into orbit, and proof of the distance capabilities of their missiles.[6] This proved that the Soviets had rockets capable of sending nuclear weapons from Russia to Western Europe and even North America. This was the most immediate threat that the launch of Sputnik 1 posed. The United States, a land with a history of geographical security from European wars, suddenly seemed vulnerable.

A contributing factor to the Sputnik Crisis was that the Soviets had not released a photograph of the satellite for five days after the launch.[6] Until this point, its appearance remained a mystery to Americans. Another factor was Sputnik's weight of 184 pounds (83 kg), compared to United States' plans to launch a satellite of 21.5 pounds (9.8 kg).[6] The Soviet claim seemed outrageous to many American officials who doubted its accuracy. U.S. rockets at the time produced 150,000 pounds-force (670,000 N) of thrust and U.S. officials presumed that the Soviet rocket that launched Sputnik into space had to have produced 200,000 pounds-force (890,000 N) of thrust. In fact, the R-7 rocket that launched Sputnik 1 into space produced almost 1,000,000 pounds-force (4,400,000 N) of thrust.[6] All these factors contributed to the American people's perception that they were greatly behind the Soviets in the development of space technologies.

Hours after the launch, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Astronomy Department rigged an ad-hoc interferometer to measure signals from the satellite.[1] Donald B. Gillies and Jim Snyder programmed the ILLIAC I computer to calculate the satellite orbit from this data. The programming and calculation was completed in less than two days. The rapid publication of the ephemeris (orbit) in the journal Nature within a month of the satellite launch[7] helped to dispel some of the fear created by the Sputnik launch. It also lent credence to the spurious idea that the Sputnik launch was part of an organized effort to dominate space.[8]

The successful launch of Sputnik 1 and the subsequent failure of the first two Project Vanguard launch attempts, greatly accentuated the perception in the United States of a threat from the Soviet Union, a perception that had persisted since the Cold War began after World War II. The same rocket that launched Sputnik could send a nuclear warhead anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes, stripping the continental United States of its oceanic defenses. The Soviets had demonstrated this capability on 21 August with a 6,000-kilometer (3,700 mi) test flight of the R-7 booster. The event was announced by TASS five days later and was widely reported in other media.

Eisenhower's reaction

Five days after the launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite, Eisenhower addressed the people of the United States. After being asked by a reporter about security concerns regarding the Russian satellite, Eisenhower said "Now, so far as the satellite itself is concerned, that does not raise my apprehensions, not one iota".[6]

Eisenhower made the argument that Sputnik was only a scientific achievement and not a military threat or change in world power. Eisenhower believed that Sputnik's weight "was not commensurate with anything of great military significance, and that was also a factor in putting it in [proper] perspective".[6]

In 1958 Eisenhower declared three "stark facts" the United States needed to confront:

  • The USSR had surpassed the United States and "the rest of the free world" in scientific and technological advancements in outer space.
  • If the USSR maintained this superiority, it might use it as a means to undermine the United States' prestige and leadership.
  • If the USSR became the first to achieve significantly superior military capability in outer space and create an imbalance of power, it could pose a direct military threat to the United States.[9]

He followed this statement by saying that the United States needed to meet these challenges with "resourcefulness and vigor".[9] Eisenhower's ability to project confidence about the situation was limited because his confidence was based on clandestine reconnaissance.[9] As such, he failed to quell the fears that there was a shift in power between the Americans and Soviets.[9] The perception of the Soviets as more modern than Americans was reinforced by Eisenhower's old-fashioned style.[10] The launch of Sputnik 1 also impacted Eisenhower's ratings in his polls, from which he eventually recovered.[6]

Media and political influences

Soviet stamp depicting Sputnik's orbit around Earth

The media stirred a moral panic by writing sensational pieces on the event. In the first and second days following the event, New York Times wrote that the launch of Sputnik 1 was a major global propaganda and prestige triumph for Russian Communism.[11] Not until after the people of the United States were exposed to a multitude of news reports did it become a "nation in shock".[11] The media not only reported public concern, it also created the hysteria.[11] Journalists greatly exaggerated the danger of the Soviet satellite for their own benefit.[11] On October 9, 1957, notable science fiction writer and scientist Arthur C. Clarke said that the day Sputnik orbited around the Earth the United States became a second-rate power.[11]

Politicians used the event to bolster their ratings in polls.[6] Research and development was used as a propaganda tool and Congress spent large sums of money on the perceived problem of American technological deficiency.[10] After the launch of Sputnik 1 national security advisers overestimated the USSR's current and potential rocket strength which alarmed portions of Congress and the executive branch.[11] When these estimations were released, Eisenhower was forced into an accelerated missile race to appease those concerned with America's safety.[11] Sputnik provoked Congress into taking action on improving the United States' standing in the fields of science.

The Soviets also had a hand in the political exploitation of the event. Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the USSR, reflected on the event saying "It always sounded good to say in public speeches that we could hit a fly at any distance with our missiles. Despite the wide radius of destruction caused by our nuclear warheads, pinpoint accuracy was still necessary - and it was difficult to achieve".[6] At the time, Khrushchev stated that "our potential enemies cringe in fright".[6] Political analyst Samuel Lubell conducted research on public opinion about Sputnik and found "no evidence at all of any panic or hysteria in the public's reaction" confirming that it was an elite, not popular, panic.[11]


United States

The launch spurred a series of initiatives by the United States,[12] ranging from defense to education. Increased emphasis was placed on the Navy's Project Vanguard to launch an American satellite into orbit. There was renewed interest in the preceding Explorer program that launched the first American satellite into orbit on January 31, 1958.[13] In February 1958, Eisenhower authorized formation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, later renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), within the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop emerging technologies for the U.S. military. On July 29, 1958, he signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the creation of NASA.[12]

Less than a year after the Sputnik launch, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). The act was a four-year program that poured billions of dollars into the U.S. education system. In 1953 the government spent $153 million, and colleges took $10 million of that funding; however, by 1960 the combined funding grew almost six-fold because of the NDEA.[14] After the initial public shock, the Space Race began, leading to the first human launched into space, Project Apollo and the first humans to land on the Moon in 1969.[15]

Campaigning in 1960 on closing the "missile gap",[16] Eisenhower's successor John F. Kennedy decided to deploy 1,000 Minuteman missiles. This was many more ICBMs than the Soviets had at the time.[17] Though Kennedy did not favor a massive U.S. manned space program while in the U.S. Senate during Eisenhower's term, public reaction to the Soviet's launching the first human into orbit, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961 led Kennedy to raise the stakes of the Space Race by setting the goal of landing men on the Moon. Kennedy claimed that "If the Soviets control space they can control the earth, as in past centuries the nation that controlled the seas dominated the continents".[10] Eisenhower disagreed with Kennedy's goal, referring to it as a "stunt".[6] Kennedy had privately acknowledged that the space race was a waste of money, but he knew there were benefits from a frightened electorate.[10] The space race was less about its intrinsic importance and more about prestige and calming the public.

The Sputnik Crisis sparked the U.S. drive to retake the lead in space exploration from the Soviets, and fueled its drive to land men on the Moon.[9] American officials had a variety of opinions at the time, some registering alarm, others dismissing the satellite. Gerald Ford, a Republican congressman from Michigan, had stated that "We Middle Westerners are sometimes called isolationists. I don't agree with the label; but there can be no isolationists anywhere when a thermonuclear warhead can flash down from space at hypersonic speed to reach any spot on Earth minutes after its launching".[6] Former United States Rear Admiral Rawson Bennett, chief of naval operations, stated that Sputnik was a "hunk of iron almost anybody could launch".[6]

The Sputnik Crisis also spurred substantial transformation in the United States' science policy which provided much of the basis for modern academic scientific research.[18] In the mid-1960s NASA went on to provide almost 10 percent of the federal funds for academic research.[18]

Further expansion was made in the funding and research of space weapons and missile defense in the form of anti-ballistic missile proposals.[9] Education programs were initiated to foster a new generation of engineers and support was dramatically increased for scientific research.[19] Congress increased the National Science Foundation (NSF) appropriation for 1959 to $134 million, almost $100 million higher than the year before. By 1968, the NSF budget stood at nearly $500 million.

According to Marie Thorsten, Americans experienced a "techno-other void" after the Sputnik crisis and continue to express longing for "another Sputnik" to boost education and innovation. During the 1980s, the rise of Japan filled that void temporarily. Following the Sputnik crisis, leaders exploited an "awe doctrine" to organize learning "around a single model of educational national security: with math and science serving for supremacy in science and engineering, foreign languages and cultures for potential espionage, and history and humanities for national self-definition". American leaders were not able to exploit the image of Japan as effectively, despite its representations of super-smart students and a strong economy.[20]

United Kingdom

In Britain the launch of the first Sputnik provoked surprise, combined with elation at experiencing the dawn of the Space Age. It also aroused feelings of sadness, for it reminded the public of their nation's loss of prestige and power on the world stage. The crisis soon became part of the broader Cold War narrative.[21] Much of the public nervousness that did exist was dispelled when the Soviets launched Laika (one of several space dogs sent into space during the 1950s and 1960s) into space in November 1957 aboard Sputnik 2, which was seen less as a threat and more so as a propaganda maneuver to cause turmoil.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Some History of the Department of Astronomy". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b Kay, Sean (April–May 2013). "America's Sputnik Moments". Survival. doi:10.1080/00396338.2013.784470.
  3. ^ Bradley Lightbody (1999). The Cold War. Psychology Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-415-19526-3.
  4. ^ Kaiser, David (2006). "The Physics of Spin: Sputnik Politics and American Physicists in the 1950s". Social Research.
  5. ^ a b Macdougall, Ian (August 15, 2016). "The Leak Prosecution That Lost the Space Race". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Mieczkowski, Yanek (2013). Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige. United States of America: Cornell University Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8014-5150-8.
  7. ^ King, I. R.; McVittie, G. C.; Swenson, G. W.; Wyatt, S. P. (9 November 1957). "Further observations of the first satellite". Nature (4593): 943. Bibcode:1957Natur.180..943K. doi:10.1038/180943a0.
  8. ^ Isachenkov, Vladimir (1 October 2007). "Secrets of Sputnik Launch Revealed". USA Today. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 13 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Peoples, Columba (2008). "Sputnik and 'Skill Thinking' Revisited: Technological Determinism in American Responses to the Soviet Missile Threat". Cold War History.
  10. ^ a b c d e DeGroot, Gerard (December 2007). "Sputnik 1957". American History.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h McQuaid, Kim (2007). "Sputnik Reconsidered: Image and Reality in the Early Space Age". Canadian Review of American Studies.
  12. ^ a b History Channel (2012a).
  13. ^ Schefter (1999), pp. 25–26.
  14. ^ Layman & Tompkins (1994), p. 190.
  15. ^ DeNooyer (2007).
  16. ^ Dickson (2003), pp. 5–6, 160—162.
  17. ^ Dickson (2003), pp. 213–214.
  18. ^ a b Geiger, Roger (1997). "What Happened After Sputnik? Shaping University Research in the United States". Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy.
  19. ^ Totten, Michael (26 September 2013). "The Effects of the Cold War on us Education". Education Space 360. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2014.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  20. ^ Thorsten (2012), p. 74.
  21. ^ Barnett, Nicholas (May 2013). "Russia Wins Space Race: The British Press and the Sputnik Moment, 1957". Media History. 19 (2): 182–195. doi:10.1080/13688804.2013.791419.


  • Bruccoli, Matthew J.; Bondi, Victor; Baughman, Judith (1994). Layman, Richard; Tompkins, Vincent (eds.). American Decades: 1950—1959. Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale Research. ISBN 0-810-35727-5.
  • Burrows, William E. (1999). This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age. New York: The Modern Library. ISBN 978-0-375-75485-2.
  • Brzezinski, Matthew (2007). Red Moon Rising : Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age. New York: Times Books. ISBN 9780805081473.
  • Cadbury, Deborah (2006). Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and The Soviet Union for Dominion of Space. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-084553-7.
  • Chaikin, Andrew (1994). A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-81446-6.
  • Crompton, Samuel (2007). Sputnik/Explorer 1 : The Race to Conquer Space. New York: Chelsea House. ISBN 9780791093573.
  • Dickson, Paul (2003). Sputnik: The Shock of the Century. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group. ISBN 0-425-18843-4.
  • Hardesty, Von; Eisman, Gene (2007). Epic Rivalry: The Inside Story of the Soviet and American Space Race. Foreword by Sergei Krushchev. Washington, D.C: National Geographic. ISBN 9781426201196.
  • Neufeld, Michael J. (2007). Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-26292-9.
  • Ordway III, Frederick I.; Sharpe, Mitchell (2007). The Rocket Team. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books. ISBN 978-1-894959-82-7.
  • Roman, Peter (1995). Eisenhower and the Missile Gap. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801427975.
  • Schefter, James (1999). The Race: The Uncensored Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-49253-7.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A. (2003). Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge. Gainesville: University of Florida Press. ISBN 0-8130-2627-X.
  • Spitzmiller, Ted (2006). Astronautics: A Historical Perspective of Mankind's Efforts to Conquer the Cosmos. Book 1 — Dawn of the Space Age. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books. ISBN 978-1-894959-63-6.
  • Thorsten, Marie (2012). Superhuman Japan: Knowledge, Nation and Culture in US-Japan Relations. Oxon, UK: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-41426-5.
Other online resources
1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement

The 1958 US–UK Mutual Defense Agreement, or UK–US Mutual Defence Agreement, is a bilateral treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom on nuclear weapons cooperation. The treaty's full name is Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation on the uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes. It allows the United States and the UK to exchange nuclear materials, technology and information. While the US has nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries, including France and some NATO countries, this agreement is by far the most comprehensive. Because of the agreement's strategic value to Britain, Harold Macmillan (the Prime Minister who presided over the United Kingdom's entry into the agreement) called it "the Great Prize".The treaty was signed on 3 July 1958, after the Soviet Union shocked the American public with the Sputnik crisis on 4 October 1957, and the British hydrogen bomb programme successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in the Operation Grapple test on 8 November 1957. The Anglo-American Special Relationship proved mutually beneficial, although it was never one of equals; the United States was far larger than Britain both militarily and economically. Britain soon became dependent on the United States for its nuclear weapons, as it lacked the resources to produce a range of designs. The treaty allowed American nuclear weapons to be supplied to Britain through Project E, for the use by the Royal Air Force and British Army of the Rhine.

The treaty provided for the sale to the UK of one complete nuclear submarine propulsion plant, plus ten years' supply of enriched uranium to fuel it. Other nuclear material was also acquired from the United States under the treaty. Some 5.4 tonnes of UK produced plutonium was sent to the US in return for 6.7 kilograms (15 lb) of tritium and 7.5 tonnes of highly enriched uranium between 1960 and 1979, although much of the highly enriched uranium was used not for weapons, but as fuel for the growing fleet of UK nuclear submarines. The treaty paved the way for the Polaris Sales Agreement, and the Royal Navy ultimately acquired entire weapons systems, with the UK Polaris programme and Trident nuclear programme using American missiles with British nuclear warheads.

The treaty has been amended and renewed nine times. The most recent renewal extended it to 31 December 2024.

ASEAN Declaration

The ASEAN Declaration or Bangkok Declaration is the founding document of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was signed in Bangkok on 8 August 1967 by the five ASEAN founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a display of solidarity against communist expansion in Vietnam and communist insurgency within their own borders. It states the basic principles of ASEAN: co-operation, amity, and non-interference. The date is now celebrated as ASEAN Day.

Barometer question

The barometer question is an example of an incorrectly designed examination question demonstrating functional fixedness that causes a moral dilemma for the examiner. In its classic form, popularized by American test designer professor Alexander Calandra (1911–2006), the question asked the student to "show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." The examiner was confident that there was one, and only one, correct answer, which is by calculating the difference in pressure at the top and bottom of the building. Contrary to the examiner's expectations, the student responded with a series of completely different answers. These answers were also correct, yet none of them proved the student's competence in the specific academic field being tested.

The barometer question achieved the status of an urban legend; according to an internet meme, the question was asked at the University of Copenhagen and the student was Niels Bohr. The Kaplan, Inc. ACT preparation textbook describes it as an "MIT legend", and an early form is found in a 1958 American humor book. However, Calandra presented the incident as a real-life, first-person experience that occurred during the Sputnik crisis. Calandra's essay, "Angels on a Pin", was published in 1959 in Pride, a magazine of the American College Public Relations Association. It was reprinted in Current Science in 1964, in Saturday Review in 1968 and included in the 1969 edition of Calandra's The Teaching of Elementary Science and Mathematics. Calandra's essay became a subject of academic discussion. It was frequently reprinted since 1970, making its way into books on subjects ranging from teaching, writing skills, workplace counseling and investment in real estate to chemical industry, computer programming and integrated circuit design.

Eisenhower Doctrine

The Eisenhower Doctrine was a policy enunciated by Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 5, 1957, within a "Special Message to the Congress on the Situation in the Middle East". Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, a Middle Eastern country could request American economic assistance or aid from U.S. military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression. Eisenhower singled out the Soviet threat in his doctrine by authorizing the commitment of U.S. forces "to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism". The phrase "international communism" made the doctrine much broader than simply responding to Soviet military action. A danger that could be linked to communists of any nation could conceivably invoke the doctrine.


In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.

Guerrilla war in the Baltic states

The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states or the Forest Brothers resistance movement was the armed struggle against Soviet rule that spanned from 1940 to the mid-1950s. After the occupation of the Baltic territories by the Soviets in 1944, an insurgency started. According to some estimates, 10,000 partisans in Estonia, 10,000 partisans in Latvia and 30,000 partisans in Lithuania and many more supporters were involved. This war continued as an organised struggle until 1956 when the superiority of the Soviet military caused the native population to adopt other forms of resistance. While estimates related to the extent of partisan movement vary, but there seems to be a consensus among researchers that by international standards, the Baltic guerrilla movements were extensive. Proportionally, the partisan movement in the post-war Baltic states was of a similar size as the Viet Cong movement in South Vietnam.

History of delay-tolerant networking

The history of delay-tolerant networking examines the bulk of the technologies that began the field that is known today as delay-tolerant networking. Research began as projects under United States government grants relating to the necessity of networking technologies that can sustain the significant delays and packet corruption of space travel. Initially, these projects looked only short-range communication between manned missions to the moon and back, but the field quickly expanded into an entire sub-field of DTNs that created the technological advances to allow for the Interplanetary Internet.

In the 1970s, spurred by the micronization of computing, researchers began developing technology for routing between non-fixed locations of computers. While the field of ad hoc routing was inactive throughout the 1980s, the widespread use of wireless protocols reinvigorated the field in the 1990s as mobile ad hoc routing and vehicular ad hoc networking became areas of increasing interest.

With the growing interest in mobile ad hoc routing and the increasing complexity of the Interplanetary Internet, the 2000s (decade) brought about a growing number of academic conferences on delay and disruption-tolerant networking. This field saw many optimizations on classic ad hoc and delay-tolerant networking algorithms and began to examine factors such as security, reliability, verifiability, and other areas of research that are well understood in traditional computer networking.

Jamaican political conflict

The Jamaican political conflict is a long standing feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence. The Jamaican Labor Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston. Each side believes the other to be controlled by foreign elements, the JLP is said to be backed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the PNP is said to been backed by the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.

Johnson Doctrine

The Johnson Doctrine, enunciated by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson after the United States' intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, declared that domestic revolution in the Western Hemisphere would no longer be a local matter when "the object is the establishment of a Communist dictatorship". It is an extension of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Doctrines.

NDF Rebellion

The NDF Rebellion was an uprising in the Yemen Arab Republic by the National Democratic Front, under Yahya Shami, between 1978 and 1982.

New Math

New Mathematics or New Math was a brief, dramatic change in the way mathematics was taught in American grade schools, and to a lesser extent in European countries, during the 1960s. The change involved new curriculum topics and teaching practices introduced in the U.S. shortly after the Sputnik crisis, in order to boost science education and mathematical skill in the population, so that the technological threat of Soviet engineers, reputedly highly skilled mathematicians, could be met.

The phrase is often used now to describe any short-lived fad which quickly becomes highly discredited.

Project Emily

Project Emily was the deployment of American-built Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1963. Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command operated 60 Thor missiles, dispersed to 20 RAF air stations, as part of the British nuclear deterrent.

Due to concerns over the buildup of Soviet missiles, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower met Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in Bermuda in March 1957 to explore the possibility of short-term deployment of IRBMs in the United Kingdom until the long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were deployed. The October 1957 Sputnik crisis caused this plan to be expedited. The first Thor missile arrived in the UK on a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II transport aircraft in August 1958, and was delivered to the RAF in September.

RAF crews periodically visited the United States for training, culminating in 21 operational training launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, 59 of the missiles, with their W49 1.44-megaton-of-TNT (6.0 PJ) thermonuclear warheads, were brought to operational readiness. The Thor missile force was disbanded in 1963, and the missiles were returned to the United States, where most were expended in military space shots.

School Mathematics Study Group


The School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG) was an American academic think tank focused on the subject of reform in mathematics education. Directed by Edward G. Begle and financed by the National Science Foundation, the group was created in the wake of the Sputnik crisis in 1958 and tasked with creating and implementing mathematics curricula for primary and secondary education, which it did until its termination in 1977. The efforts of the SMSG yielded a reform in mathematics education known as New Math which was promulgated in a series of reports, culminating in a series published by Random House called the New Mathematical Library. In the early years, SMSG also produced a set of draft textbooks in typewritten paperback format for elementary, middle and high school students.

Perhaps the most authoritative collection of materials from the School Mathematics Study Group is now housed in the Archives of American Mathematics in the University of Texas at Austin's Center for American History.

Small-lift launch vehicle

A small-lift launch vehicle is a rocket orbital launch vehicle that is capable of lifting up to 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). The next larger category consists of medium-lift launch vehicles.The first small-lift launch vehicle was the Sputnik rocket, it put into orbit an unmanned orbital carrier rocket designed by Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Union, derived from the R-7 Semyorka ICBM. On 4 October 1957, the rocket was used to perform the world's first satellite launch, placing Sputnik 1 satellite into a low Earth orbit.

The USA responded by launching the Vanguard rocket, that was intended to be the first launch vehicle the United States would use to place a satellite into orbit. Instead, the Sputnik crisis caused by the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 led the U.S., after the failure of Vanguard TV3, to quickly orbit the Explorer 1 satellite using a Juno I rocket launched on January 31, 1958. Vanguard I was the second successful U.S. orbital launch. Thus started the space race, that gave the drive to put men on the moon with the USA's Apollo program.

Sputnik 1

Sputnik 1 ( or ; "Satellite-1", or "PS-1", Простейший Спутник-1 or Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable even by radio amateurs, and the 65° inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the Cold War. The launch was the beginning of a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific developments.Tracking and studying Sputnik 1 from Earth provided scientists with valuable information. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave data about the ionosphere.

Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 mph; 8,100 m/s), taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz, which were monitored by radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. Sputnik burned up on 4 January 1958 while reentering Earth's atmosphere, after three months, 1440 completed orbits of the Earth, and a distance travelled of about 70 million km (43 million mi).

Ulbricht Doctrine

The Ulbricht Doctrine, named after East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was the assertion that normal diplomatic relations between East Germany and West Germany could occur only if both states fully recognised each other's sovereignty. That contrasted with the Hallstein Doctrine, a West German policy which insisted that West Germany was the only legitimate German state.

East Germany gained acceptance of its view from fellow Communist states, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which all agreed not to normalise relations with West Germany until it recognised East German sovereignty.

West Germany eventually abandoned its Hallstein Doctrine, instead adopting the policies of Ostpolitik. In December 1972, a Basic Treaty between East and West Germany was signed that reaffirmed two German states as separate entities. The treaty also allowed the exchange of diplomatic missions and the entry of both German states to the United Nations as full members.

Vanguard (rocket)

The Vanguard rocket was intended to be the first launch vehicle the United States would use to place a satellite into orbit. Instead, the Sputnik crisis caused by the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 led the U.S., after the failure of Vanguard TV3, to quickly orbit the Explorer 1 satellite using a Juno I rocket, making Vanguard I the second successful U.S. orbital launch.

Vanguard rockets were used by Project Vanguard from 1957 to 1959. Of the eleven Vanguard rockets which the project attempted to launch, three successfully placed satellites into orbit. Vanguard rockets were an important part of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Western Bloc

The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to capitalist countries under the hegemony of the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. The governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free World" or the "Western world", whereas the Eastern Bloc was often called the "Communist world or Second world".

Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also

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