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Giant Communist Robot wrote:The Soviets, with their many firsts in space, pointed out that they went from an agrarian nation to the world leader in science and technology in a single generation; and they reasoned this was possible because of their superior social system. Let's be frank about this: the primary purpose of space exploration for the Soviets was propaganda.
I remember newscasts where the embarrassment to the U.S. was discussed, but the feeling I sensed at the time was more like humiliation or even shame. As long as there will be history books, Americans will have to read the Soviets were first. This was a time of heavy rhetoric. The U.S. was willing to play that game. Kennedy's moon challenge defined U.S. participation. By the time we made it there, the world had changed and detente was around the corner. The major impetus behind manned exploration was over.
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