Did Sputnik Really Scare Americans That Much?

#62
Critical to understanding, the public's fear there was a Missile Gap, while Eisenhower knew there was not a Missile Gap. But spilling that information meant divulging what we knew AND that they would know there must be good spy planes, ground spies, etc.

This deliberate subterfuge, or not clarifying at least, made Sputnik a scary event. It proved that the Russian intellectual body, industrial infrastructure, and ICBM capability had all been grossly underestimated. SHOCK! The Russians are coming!

Even a factual interpretation meant they had a working ICBM at least a year before the USA. That was pretty frightening after over a decade of USA military and technical hegemony since the end of WW2.

BUT WAIT. WAIT. The stubby bulky still-evolving LOX and kerosene monster R7 was immediately rejected by the Red Army as essentially undeployable. Who has three days to launch a 10,000 pound hydrogen bomb during a nuclear war. Estimates are that from 3, 6, or maybe 9 of the original R7 were stationed, but never brought to launch capability, and probably assumed into their busy space program shortly after Sputnik One.

Hence, YES the Soviets had a working ICBM well before the USA, and Sputnik One, Two, and Three offered ample proof. YES, we underestimated their overall rocket abilities.

So there were implications to math and science programs. Nothing as dramatic as "land a man on the moon and bring him home safely," however. That was the moment America went all in on the Space Race.
 

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,840
San Antonio, Tx
#67
That USAF space plane is intriguing.
There are at least two of them that I know of. They’ve been on missions that lasted close to a year - we just don’t know what it does up there all this time. Instead of being “moribund”, the US space effort is picking up speed and now it has partly moved out of the government’s purview and into the hands of private space industry. I expected this on the US side, actually, since it is the American model once the technology has been proven.
 

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,840
San Antonio, Tx
#68
.with Sputnik , the Soviet union demonstrated that all the nuclear bomber fleet were obsolete , all the Air defenses were useless and the US could be bombed anywhere with no means to stop it and only minutes warning .
Sparky, you are so far wrong about this, I suggest you read a bit on the subject. Have you watched any of the many videos on YouTube that show the flights of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavt rockets? If you had, you’d realize that these are re-usable rockets that can be turned around and relaunched in a matter of days. The Falcon Heavy can launch the heaviest payloads of any rocket platform, and, they can be landed perfectly “tail first”, Elon Musk isn’t the only US company that can do this landing, but its rockets are the biggest by far. This is a disruptive technology that have left a fair amount of egg on the collective faces of Boeing and Lockheed, plus all the others.

So, “moribund” doesn’t even come close.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,610
Sydney
#69
Are we talking sub-orbital rocketry or deep space capability ?
As far as I can see , the US has no manned space program as of now which do not use Russian launchers
And this for a couple of decades at least

There is a good argument to be made than chemical propulsion has done as much as it can achieve , plus or minus Mars
This would infer that we are waiting for a theoretical breakthrough ,
So far there is nothing on the horizon that engineers can use
 

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,840
San Antonio, Tx
#70
Are we talking sub-orbital rocketry or deep space capability ?
As far as I can see , the US has no manned space program as of now which do not use Russian launchers
And this for a couple of decades at least

There is a good argument to be made than chemical propulsion has done as much as it can achieve , plus or minus Mars
This would infer that we are waiting for a theoretical breakthrough ,
So far there is nothing on the horizon that engineers can use
Tell it to Elon Musk whose Space X rockets are for ultimate use for a manned mission to Mars. Is that deep space?
 

Similar History Discussions