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Military Origins of the Space Race

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"The next war will not start with a naval action aircraft flown by human beings. It might very well start with missiles being dropped on the capital of a country, say Washington...."

 Gen. Henry H. Arnold, 1945

Gallery view of Section 200
SI#: 2004-60151

After World War II, the rocket foreshadowed a new style of warfare in which nuclear bombs could be delivered quickly across the world. War might begin--and end--suddenly, decisively, without warning.

As the Space Race began, the United States and the Soviet Union were building rockets to use as long-range weapons. The United States initially favored bombers, but the Soviets preferred missiles and thus took an early lead in rocket technology.

A rocket able to carry a bomb across the globe also could be used to loft machines and men into orbit. The United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a long competition to develop rockets for both warfare and the exploration of space.
Map of northern hemisphere
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