Space Supremacy – Life and The World – March 4-5, 1958 – NBC Radio Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
We had a Cold War then – we had a Space Race and we had Red Scares and we had visions of nuclear holocaust that sent us into cold sweats most nights. We wanted to be on the Moon – no. maybe Mars – no; maybe all of them. We wanted to conquer space and we wanted to do it before the Russians did – only the Russians were ahead of us – they had Sputnik 1, then Sputnik 2 and a dog named Laika. Sputnik 1 circling the earth tapping out signals; terrestrial raspberries to a crimson faced NASA who managed to crash another launch, this one Vanguard 2. Sputnik 2 causing outrage among animal lovers throughout the world by sending a dog on a journey of no return.
It was all about who was going to get there first and when we did; what next. On the one hand, this set of interviews; the first with Simon Ramo, of Ramo-Wooldridge (later Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge and TRW fame), who offers a rather matter-of-fact assessment over the possibilities of a nuclear war, and his company’s development of the ICBM missile system. The other is with General D.M. Yates, who was overseeing the Military’s ICBM missile program.
It would seem, listening to these two episodes of the NBC Radio series Life And The World, that the main intent of America’s involvement in its Space program was for use as a tool in the military arsenal, that the loftier intention of “coming in peace for all mankind” wouldn’t make itself known until the 1960s. But that was a long way away – and 1958 offered no assurances of anything, except the fear that someone in either Washington or Moscow would push the button and trigger armageddon. The 1950s were indeed a nervous decade.
To get an idea of where we were, here are those two episodes of Life And The World, back-to-back from March 4-5, 1958 from NBC Radio.
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