The Space Race : A bygone era wherein the USSR and the United States of America were not only embroiled in a cold war, but also a quest to be the first to reach the moon. We all know that the Apollo 11 mission to the moon made history when two United States Astronauts walked on the lunar surface on July 20th 1969, what if history had played out differently?
The moon landing was one of the most important days in humans history –the butterfly effect from which is practically unimaginable. With one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, Apollo 11 changed history.
One thing is for sure, if Russia had landed on the moon first, that very famous Neil Armstrong quote would not exist…we would be saying a Russian phrase!
Speaking of the Astronauts –say Russia had got there first, what astronauts would they have sent up?
The Soviets were the first to send a human into outer space –Yuri Gagarin gained that title in 1961 age just 27. Sadly, the celebrity cosmonaut died a year before the moon landing –as did Sergei Korolev –the man who built the R7 rocket that put both Sputnik and Gagarin into orbit –died in 1966. Perhaps if he hadn’t the USSR may actually have got there first!
After the deaths of these two prominent figures in space travel, the wind in the soviets sails, or the fire in their rockets, for want of better euphemism, somewhat died out. The USSR lacked the leadership to pull it off ahead of the States.
If they had have made it to the moon first, would they have been back more recently?
Once the States won the lunar landing race, US Astronauts landed 5 more times, with their last being in 1972. There is some suggestions that had the Soviet got there first, they may have looked to set up a lunar base. If so, would that mean we would already have astronauts would be living up there right now? Would they have set up a military base on the moon? Would civilians live up there?
According to declassified documents –Russia was toying with the idea of colonizing the moon –to be fair though –the United States had similar moon plans, but they decided it simply wasn’t worth it. However if the Soviet had actually gone through with colonization, would there not have been some pretty intense on earth tensions?
Legally and ethically, how can a person colonize the moon! Would this have been enough to trigger hot war with America? Would Russia have used the moon as a base to host a big old lazer pointed at the USA? Had the Soviets landed on the moon first, would their research have been more extensive than the Americans? Would they have shared information? Would they have ventured to the darkside? Would currently unanswered questions about the moon be answered? Would they have been spurred on to continue their interspace successes?
The USA saw a huge economy boost following the lunar landings –would these successes instead have been the Soviets? Would they have utilized the microchip? Would the tech hub of the world now not be Silicon Valley, but St. Petersberg or Moscow? What would this mean for Communism? A big question for you –if the Soviet Space programme hadn’t lost its way, would the USSR have collapsed like it did in 1991? Would their successes on an intergalactic platform made their standing on the global platform stronger? What would it mean for Capitalism if the USSR had proved itself a long reigning success.
Well that is the big question really. No doubt the USSR, or Russia as it may still have become, may have benefitted economically from the first lunar landing –but one of the biggest changes in the course of history would be how exactly the United States would react. The lunar landing came in response to many many Russian successes in space. Arguably, until the moon landing, it seemed that Russia were winning the spacerace.
In the West we probably only consider the race to have been won by the USA because that is the narrative they spun. If Russia had got to the moon first, then the USA would be even more desperate to prove their power and perhaps humans would have been to the Mars already. The USA would not have been, and never is happy until they appear to be on top –we can only wonder at what lengths they would have gone to to win.
Luckily , after the fall of the soviet union, Russia and the United States worked together, along with Canada, Japan and Europe on the International Space Station. While competition definitely provided a sense of urgency, I hope we can continue to pool resources to work together as a planet to explore the space beyond us.
So –What if Russia had landed on the moon first –the power structure of the world as we know it today could well be different. Sadly for Russia, their programme began to fall apart with the death of the two key figures .