What is your reaction to the beginning of Space Age and the Russian Space program?Both good and bad reactions would be appreciated.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am going to go different on this one.  The film/ book “Rocket Boys” altered my most immediate reaction to the Space Race.  Homer is not motivated by an absolute and paralyzing fear of Communism.  Rather, he is animated to dream and to envision a reality that is different from what is.  The Space Race gave this opportunity to citizens of both nations, but I see it more in line with American values.  The notion of expansion of democratic vistas and the pure ability to dream of something that is vastly different from reality is what the Space Race gave to America.  For a nation that was built upon such principles, the exploration of space via the Space Race was a logical extension of its founding ideas.  While much has been wrong with American History and while this expansion has met with its countervailing force of destruction, I think that it is clear that the transformative powers that dreams have in making existing reality into a vision not yet born but one envisioned is a powerfully motivating idea.  It certainly motivated Homer to thinking about doing something other than playing football or working in the mine to get out of Coalwood.  I think that the Space Race provided such an opportunity to many young minds to be able to transform their reality as well a national conception of self through the exploration and hopeful conquest of space.  In its purest form, there is much to be admired.  Of course, there were those who twisted it for their own benefit, but in its most intact embodiment, the Space Race's moral and ethical expansion of imagination was powerful.   The very idea of kids growing up and saying that, “I want to be an astronaut” is something that represents the pinnacle of dreaming and something that was a direct result of the Space Race.

crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are referring to the space race from 1957-1975, than my opinion about it is that it was a fantastic thing.  I think space exploration is really important for the long term longevity of the human race.  It is unfortunate that space projects today revolve around such unimportant goals like going back to the move just to show that we can still do it.

The competition between the USA and the USSR accelerated what would have normally been a development process full of red tape.  When there is healthy competition between two parties to accomplish the same goal, the result is often favourable.  This effect is seen in the market all of the time.  There are lots of businesses that offer the same services, which puts pressure on companies to constantly be improving their products to give themselves an edge over the competition.

Unfortunately today that kind of competition in space exploration doesn't exist so we are chasing pointless projects and surrounding launches with massive amounts of red tape.