50 years ago today in
Popular Mechanics



Fifty years ago today, if you were leave
the coolness of your fallout shelter, walk to
the local newsstand and put down 35 cents
of your hard earned allowance, you'd be
able to purchase the August 1959 edition
of Popular Mechanics magazine.

Inside you'd find a story about the start of
a frenzied, decade-long competition between
Cold War rivals.

The story, titled "Race to the Moon", shows
that it was unclear whether the U.S.S.R. or
the U.S. would reach the moon first.

The implications of winning and losing the race
were equally unclear.

Back in 1959, Russia seemed to be the front
runner. Consider, for example, these remarks
by leading figures in the Space Race -

- "It will take the United States five years
to overtake Russia in the intercontinental
ballistic missile field even if the United
States were to go all out . . . Russia's Mechta
(fired past the moon into orbit around the Sun)
proves again that the Soviets have more
powerful rockets than the U.S., and that the
guidance was very accurate . . ."

~Wernher Von Braun
(U.S. astronautics engineer)

- "The creation of man's first artificial planet
demonstrates that Soviet rocket engineering
is well on the way to conquering the cosmos . . "

~ Anatoly Dorodnitsyn
(U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences)

- "Some of the routes for a flight to the moon
have already been worked out."
~ V. Dobronravov,
(Soviet Physicist and Mathematician)

Check out Popular Mechanics' August 1959
"Race to the Moon."

For the rest of the story go here.

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