This independent research topic covers the political effects from an American point of view of the Soviet launch of the very first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, which had ignited the entire space competition between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This research follows the series of political events that occurred within the Eisenhower administration when Sputnik 1 was first launched on October 4, 1957. The research conducted throughout this paper reveals the understudied history of the political challenges Eisenhower faced after the launch of Sputnik 1. The primary sources used in this independent study include newspaper/magazine articles, interviews, speeches, documented hearings, and reports, which help contribute to the understudied history of the political challenges mentioned in this paper. This work argues that the Democratic Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and Senator John Kennedy were the characters at the forefront of the political challenges Eisenhower faced. The significance of this is that it pushed Eisenhower and his administration to construct the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). These legislative acts and institutions are all crucial elements that contributed to the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union in the twelve-year-long space race. In addition, they are responsible for the rapid advances in technology and science worldwide in the 20th and 21st centuries.


Pozefsky, Peter




Law and Politics

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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