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Florida is the Birthplace of the Space Race

The Space Race was a competition between the US and the USSR. It began after World War II and lasted through the 1960s. The goal of this race was to get into space and become the first country to achieve it.

When Russia launched Sputnik in 1957, the US started taking the Space Race more seriously. America knew they had to win if they wanted to be one step ahead of Russia.

But they didn't want to spend all their money on a space program, so they turned to Florida. The state offered a great place to test out experimental rockets and satellites without worrying about civilians getting hurt or property getting damaged.

They also had easy access to the ocean for rocket launches and plenty of uninhabited lands. The headquarters was at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Russia beats the world to space.

The Space Race began when the Soviet Union, then led by Nikita Khrushchev, launched Sputnik. The Soviets became the first to launch a space satellite, which was about the size of a beach ball and weighed only 184 pounds.

This successful launching spurred the United States to create its space program. As they developed it, they also competed against each other in what would become known as the Space Race.

Both countries invested heavily to be able to win this race. The US wanted to make sure they had more satellites than the USSR to prove that capitalism was better. They also wanted to be able to send humans into space to beat them there.

The United States entered the race with high hopes of being the first to reach its goal. NASA was born with President Kennedy's leadership, but the US soon discovered that satellites were not the end goal.  The Soviets eyed the Moon.

The Soviets beat the USA by putting Yuri Gagarin into orbit on April 12, 1961. This led America to take action. They knew that they needed to up their game if they wanted to beat Russia at something.

The efforts and operations that followed led to the NASA moon landing, the first for humanity, on Apollo 11, launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 39A at the John F Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Florida to the Moon

It was July 20, 1969. That day, Americans took one giant leap for humanity. The Apollo 11 spacecraft touched down on the surface of the Moon at 4:17 pm Eastern Time from the famed space center in Florida.

It was a remarkable feat to reach the lunar surface in only eight days. It would have taken 25 years to get the Moon with 1960's technology. The spacecraft was 75 feet tall and weighed 30 tons. It carried nearly 5,000 pounds of equipment, including tools, food, camera equipment, portable life support system, lunar rock samples, and more.

The astronauts spent 21 hours exploring the lunar surface while their ship orbited overhead. They left behind a plaque that read, "We came in peace for all mankind." The US won.

Beautiful blue planet earth with yellow city lights on the starry background in outer space

Disasters Before and After the Moon

Florida has always been a hotspot for space exploration, but it's also the home of many space disasters. NASA programs have seen accidents that have resulted in lost lives, destruction of property, and environmental damage, while commercial endeavors have led to other less-severe mishaps.

Apollo 1 – 1967 fatal deaths. On January 27, 1967, a fire in a capsule simulator at the Cape Carnival was discovered. The capsule contained a total of 7 astronauts, including three flight directors. All of them died of smoke inhalation and carbon dioxide poisoning.

From the events in Florida, across the Atlantic, the Soviets tried to be the first to reach the Moon. Their first crewed mission towards the Moon came to a crashing halt in 1967, when a problem with the rocket's pressurization system left the spacecraft grounded for a week.

The crew was not harmed, but the incident delayed a space station scheduled to be operational the following year. The Soyuz 1 failure marked the first time the USSR had lost a crewed spacecraft during a mission, and it was the first "serious" failure of a Soyuz launch.

Back in Florida, and long after the moon landing, on January 27, 1986, NASA's space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center, FL. The disaster killed the crew of seven people on board and grounded all of NASA's shuttle flights for almost three years. The explosion came as a result of a faulty rubber O-ring on one of the booster rockets. The spacecraft crumbled into the Atlantic off the coast of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In 2003, Columbia, the space shuttle built by NASA, was reentering the atmosphere on January 16 to land at Cape Canaveral. It broke apart, killing its seven crew members and putting two more people in need of a new orbiter.

The cause of the accident was linked to the vehicle's right-wing separating from the shuttle's external tank. This sent the shuttle into a steep and untenable angle that caused it to descend uncontrollably into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Birthplace of Space Civilisations

Florida is always up to something! Musk might launch a Mars base from Texas, but Florida has not ceased generating ideas that will bring about the future of human civilization. The Space Race set a precedence for how people will continue to pursue success.

From pioneering space missions to futuristic technologies, Florida has been instrumental in shaping the current technological society. With more space to be explored, new ideas and technologies will be developed to expand humanity's knowledge about the universe, with the KSC as the stage or reference center.

Visit Florida, tour the Kennedy Space Center.

The Kennedy Space Center is the place where many rockets were launched into space. Today, it is one of the most visited destinations in the state. The NASA Space Center also has one of the most comprehensive tours in the state, including a trip to nearby Cape Canaveral.

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