Thursday, July 19, 2007

We make friends, we create!
And we maintain peace in space!

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel to space and the first to orbit the Earth. This was a major breakthrough for the human kind and significant achievement for the Soviet Union, which managed to create such an advanced technological and industrial project in only 15 years after the devastating World War II.

In the seventies the Cold War was in full swing, with Soviet Union and United States of America investing numerous resources in their space programs. We all owe something to that confrontation, because fundamental research and experimental works of the decade finally resulted in development of civil microelectronics, supersonic avionics, polymeric chemistry and other scientific fields. Amazing, but even the Cold War has advantages…

This space race was not only about world prestige and scientific discoveries. Both Soviet and American military authorities were dreaming about space domination. Nuclear Deterrence Theory was preventing the strike and space could give key advantage over potential adversary. In 1983 Ronald Reagan proposed Strategic Defense Initiative project, which implied deployment of ground and space-based stations, with a purpose of protection in case of a nuclear missile attack. The project was soon nicknamed “Star Wars” because of its futuristic elements, including space lasers, rail guns and kinetic warheads – things technologically improbable even in the modern times. But SDI's main design flaw was its intricacy, which resulted in certain unreliability. Nevertheless the surveillance part of the project proved to be quite useful and despite the overall flop of the SDI, is now being implemented as a part of National Missile Defense Program.

By that time Soviet Union was developing its own space defense system, with more than 20 small space stations equipped with surveillance equipment and counter strike missiles. The information about is highly classified, reportedly this system is still operational.

The poster above proclaims the official Soviet attitude to SDI – Soviet Union stands for Peace and United States calls for war. The idea is being illustrated with Yuri Gagarin and white dove – an international peace symbol. Its wings are covered with flags of Eastern Block Countries - the allies of Soviet Union. These countries were either annexed after WWII or were supported economically in exchange for loyalty and adherence to communist ideology. Eastern Block collapsed in the nineties due to disintegration processes in the Soviet Union and its defeat in Cold War.