Answer to Question #166929 in History for william

Question #166929

Imagine you are the same age that you are now but the year is 1957. Your entire neighborhood is outside on the night of Sputnik crosses the sky. You read about the event in newspapers the next day.

Write about thought and fears you might have? What did teachers say at school? Needs to be 400-500 words.

Expert's answer

           Sputnik was about the size of a microwave oven, but it caused fear and awe in America because it had been launched by our enemies, the Soviets. As a result, the launch of Sputnik served to intensify the arms race and raise Cold War tensions. During the 1950s, both the United States and the Soviet Union were working to develop new technology.

There was a sudden crisis of confidence in American technology, values, politics, and the military. Science, technology, and engineering were totally reworked and massively funded in the shadow of Sputnik. The Russian satellite essentially forced the United States to place a new national priority on research science, which led to the development of microelectronics—the technology used in today's laptop, personal, and handheld computers.

On another level, Sputnik affected national attitudes toward conspicuous consumption as well, symbolically killing off the market for the Edsel automobile and the decadent automotive tail fin. The media stirred a moral panic by writing sensational pieces on the event. In the first and second days following the event, The New York Times wrote that the launch of Sputnik 1 was a major global propaganda and prestige triumph for Russian communism. It was after the people of the United States were exposed to a multitude of news reports that it became a "nation in shock. The media not only reported public concern but also created the hysteria. Journalists greatly exaggerated the danger of the Soviet satellite for their own benefit.

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

To conclude, 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.


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