Military Origins Of The Space Race

This image shows American rockets, built after World War II and used both for military and civilian endeavors. After World War II, the rocket foreshadowed a new style of warfare in which nuclear bombs could be delivered quickly across the world. War might begin--and end--suddenly, decisively, without warning. As the Space Race began, the United States and the Soviet Union were building rockets to use as long-range weapons. The United States initially favored bombers, but the Soviets preferred missiles and thus took an early lead in rocket technology.

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Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum