For whom was the space race significant? Was it significant in the short term or long term?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Space Race was significant for many countries both in the short term and in the long term.

In the short term, the Space Race was very significant for both the United States and the Soviet Union.  For the Soviet Union, the early part of the Space Race was a source of pride.  They were able, as the supposedly more backward country, to keep up with and even defeat the United States in the race to put something in orbit.  Conversely, for the United States, it was a cause for fear and anxiety.  It made Americans fear that they were falling behind the Soviets.  This spurred, among other things, a boom in funding for science education and a concerted effort to compete more vigorously in the Space Race.  Later, the Space Race became a source of pride for the US as the country won the race to put men on the moon.

In the long term, the Space Race has been significant for the entire world.  It led to the creation of huge missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons around the world.  This has made people feel less safe as the specter of nuclear warfare has hung over us.  On the other hand, it also spurred the creation of communications satellites, which have given us the ability to communicate easily around the world and which have also brought about technology, like the GPS, that we use every day.  We can also argue that, in the long term, the Space Race helped to win the Cold War for the US.  We can say that it helped force the Soviet Union to spend more than it could afford on things other than consumer goods.  This helped make Soviet citizens dissatisfied with their regime and helped cause the collapse of that country.  In these ways, the Space Race was significant for people in many countries in both the long term and the short term.