The New Space Race
Fifty years ago, the now-defunct Soviet Union stunned the world with the launch of Sputnik. While it was little more than a large silver ball carrying a radio transmitter, Sputnik represented nothing less than a claim on the future of mankind by an odious political system and a boast of Marxist superiority over everything from education to industrial organization.
At the time, the United States had been financially and technically very capable of beating the Soviets to space. Werner von Braun had even begged the Eisenhower Administration for use of a Redstone rocket to put a U.S. satellite into orbit two years earlier.
Spurred on, however, by Sputnik, the United States would convincingly demonstrate in 12 short years the superiority of a robust market economy and a free people with the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon.
In the intervening years, nothing has harmed the U.S. space program more than the ill-fated decision to follow Apollo with the Space Shuttle. NASA’s "camel by committee" came up with the stunningly bad idea of making the Shuttle both a human transport and a heavy-lifting space truck.
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