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Military Origins of the Space Race

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A top-secret report presented to the U.S. Air Force in early 1954 re-assessed ballistic missiles in light of recent advances in nuclear weapons technology. The Strategic Missiles Evaluation Committee worried that the Russians might be ahead of the United States in long-range ballistic missiles and recommended that the Air Force treat missile development as "an extremely high priority."


By 1953 U.S. weapons designers had invented a way to make hydrogen bombs small and lightweight. This meant that an ICBM did not need to be as large as previously thought. The "Bravo" test, conducted in the South Pacific in 1954, confirmed the feasibility of the smaller new H-bomb design. The era of the ICBM was at hand.

Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Bravo Test
206 k jpeg
CN94-357 Los Alamos

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