From the early 1950s until the fall of the Wall, the US and the USSR were involved in the tense Cold War, materialized in the famous space race. For the Soviets, though, the aim wasn’t just beating the US (which they did), but actually taking Communism to outer space.
As a kid, I remember hearing about the famous Space Race and imagining a huge Star Wars-like battle between American and Soviet astronauts. Though I bet those historical missions were definitely something worth watching, we all know that the root of what we know as the Space Race was an intense political show-off between powers. Now, it’s widely believed that the ultimate winner of this race was the US by sending Neil Armstrong and his crew to the Moon. However, if we’re being honest, that race had already been won multiple times by the Soviet Space Program.
Just a little summary. The Space Race began in 1955, when both powers announced they were sending the very first artificial satellite to space. The USSR was the first to do so when, in 1957, they managed to put Sputnik 1 in orbit around the Earth (point for the Soviet Union). From this moment on, they would achieve a lot of firsts before their American rivals. Some of these include the very the first man to orbit in space (Yuri Gagarin), the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova), the first spacewalk (Alexei Leonov), the first lunar landing (unmanned), the first animal in space, and the first space station.
NASA had a few accomplishments, but nothing compared to the list of firsts the Soviets had already achieved. For the American government, the race was all about beating the USSR and proving they were the strongest power (well, that and ensuring they didn’t have the technology to start a huge nuclear war). However, the Soviets had more ambitious and kind of sci-fi plans. They wanted to create a Communist utopia in space and conquer the universe.
The images below are just a few of the many ideas and visions the USSR had regarding space and their plans to build this new nation outside the world. From children’s books, to science magazines, and propaganda posters, here’s how the USSR envisioned life in space.
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