How the Space Race Fueled Innovation


Summary of rocket technology

"The principles of rocket propulsion were known to Sir Isaac Newton. Goddard demonstrated the major components of liquid fuel rockets over 30 years ago, actually using the fuels most commonly employed today. Von Braun and his associates in Germany in World War II completed the bold application of these principles to a practical propulsion system of 12 tons of thrust. This development was essentially evolutionary in nature, " says Hugh L. Dryden the Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Rockets: The early history; Goddard stands by his early rocket

The Chinese were the first people to invent the rocket by using gunpowder. This spread throughout Asia and Europe and eventually to the U.S. There was increased experimentation with rockets by civilians and by scientists such as Robert Goddard.

Robert Goddard tests for rocket efficiency

American and German contributions to space technology led to the Space Race beginning in 1957. An American, Robert Goddard, whose name is now synonymous with space exploration, made rockets more efficient with the idea of using supercooled liquids as fuels and testing them in the New Mexico desert.  This made spaceflight possible because rockets were forceful enough to carry humans into space.  Goddard's  rockets helped to perfect space technology, but he died before seeing his rockets carry men into space. In Germany, they had similar ideas.

Von Braun's Saturn 5 rocket helped the U.S. get to the moon

The treaty that ended World War I, the treaty of Versailles, was harsh on Germany. It banned production of artillery, which led Germany to focus on rockets as a substitute, until Germany rearmed, thus allowing it to focus on conventional artillery. As the World War II (WWII) was coming to a close, Hitler was convinced by aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun to make rockets such the V2, the first ballistic missile, and V1, the first cruise missile, a top priority. This was one of the many decisions that led to Germany’s defeat. After WWII, German scientists, including Von Braun, escaped charges of war crimes by helping America to win the Space Race.