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The State Department and the Space Race
Dichiera, Stephen C.
Putman, JohnGraubart, Jonathan
Starting in 1957, the United States played a catch-up game in the Space Race against the Soviet Union. Both countries prioritized the goal of being able to put a person on the moon before the other could. The historiography of the Space Race has focused around either the technology or the direct competition for prestige between the United States and the Soviet Union. What this study does differently is examine the competition in the context of the US State Department’s work within the broader international sphere, not just as a competition taking place between two superpowers. This paper utilizes the Foreign Relations of the United States database, alongside a few other Cold War archives, to explore how the State Department reacted both to the setbacks created by the Soviet Union making breakthroughs and to the advances made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. This was the time period during which the State Department was forced to adapt to Soviet advances, first by aiding the newly founded NASA get on its feet, before trying to show the world how open the US was with its technology in an effort to outdo Soviet propaganda, and lastly on how the Department learned to cooperate with other nations in space to improve US foreign relations.
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2019
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