Fascinated by the 1960s Space Race? Read our brief history to find out more

Peter Foy charts the history of the highly political race to put a man on the moon

By Peter Foy

Urgh. I know I’m going to say it, even before I’ve started writing. I can’t help myself. So let’s get it out of the way right now.

Space. The final frontier.

    Whoever won the race to put a man on the moon would surely establish their dominance as a global super power.  

There. Done it. And I’m sorry, but it’s true. Or at least it was true in the late 1950s and 1960s, when the US and Russia saw their space programmes as a key Cold War battleground. Whoever won the race to put a man on the moon would surely establish their dominance as a global super power.

The result was an exciting and pioneering period in scientific history. It really did feel as if frontiers were being broken. And if, like me, you were a young kid staring in wide-eyed wonder at the world, it was pretty much the most scintillating subject imaginable.

All of which explains why I’m keen to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. So come with me on a journey through time, as I chart the events that led to that historic moment.

1957. Prior to 1957 human beings had already explored the solar system and many galaxies beyond, but only in the minds of science fiction writers like Jules Verne and H G Wells, or through telescopes. On 4 October, though, the first man-made satellite was put into orbit around planet Earth.

Measuring just 58cm in diameter and carrying a radio transmitter, Sputnik 1 was a prototype. A trial run for something much bigger. Just over a month later the USSR launched Sputnik 2. Six times the size of its predecessor, it carried more equipment and a dog named Laika: the first living thing to visit space. And, sadly, the first to die there.

The Cold War was, if you’ll pardon the pun, warming up and there was great consternation in the West about what the Soviets were up to. This political climate shaped the Space Race, as it did so many aspects of society in the 1960s.

1961. On 12 April the USSR launched another spacecraft, Vostok 1. This time the passenger was not a dog but a man. Yuri Gagarin spent 108 minutes in space and orbited Earth once before returning. To do this, he had to parachute from his craft when it was 7km above Earth’s surface. The Soviet scientists had not developed a way to land the craft safely, but the authorities were keen to press on with the mission regardless. They wanted to chalk up another first over the US.

Gagarin became the pin-up boy of the USSR and was feted around the world. He died in 1968 in an unexplained plane crash, giving birth to the theory that he was eliminated because he had become too popular.

Not to be outdone, US president J F Kennedy told congress in May that an American would visit the moon and return safely before the end of the decade. Again, the wider political atmosphere undoubtedly drove the announcement. But the race to land on the moon was very much on.

1965. On 18 March the Soviets scored another win when Alexei Leonov became the first man to leave a space ship and float in space. It was the first ever spacewalk and was greeted with unconfined delight by the politburo (the executive committee of the Russian Communist Party) and the Soviet propaganda machine.

However, the mission was not as successful as the publicists made out, for at least two reasons.

First, on leaving the pressurised atmosphere of the capsule, Leonov’s spacesuit inflated, making him too large to re-enter the ship. His only course of action was to bleed oxygen from the suit to deflate it, which put his life at considerable risk.

Second, on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere the ship came in at the wrong angle and very nearly burnt up. It eventually landed in a snowfield some 900km from the target landing zone!

A scary experience for Leonov, no doubt. But at least his mission had a happier ending than poor old Laika’s.

1967. At the start of the year the US was clearly in pole position to win the race to the moon. NASA needed to prove the space worthiness of the launch vehicle and command module that would carry its elite astronauts skywards. A test launch, later to be designated Apollo 1, was scheduled for 21 February. During a rehearsal three weeks before the launch, tragedy struck. A fire, caused by an electrical fault, broke out in the cabin’s pure oxygen atmosphere killing all three astronauts on board.

NASA suspended all manned flights while the accident was investigated. More significantly, there was a huge political backlash and the future of the programme was in doubt for some months.

1968. By October the US’s space programme was set to resume. First, Apollo 7 spent 11 days orbiting Earth. Then, on 21 December, Apollo 8 launched. It was the first manned mission to the moon, timed to maximise TV exposure over the Christmas period. The mission achieved several firsts.

The first people to see the entire Earth. The first to see the far side of the moon. The first to witness “Earthrise” as they came from behind the moon. It was the first manned space ship to escape the gravity of one celestial body and be captured by another, and they did it twice.

NASA had proved that it could send men to the moon and bring them back in one piece.

    Apollo 11 launched from Cape Canaveral and four days later Neil Armstrong took “one giant leap for mankind.”  

1969. On 3 July the Soviet N1-L3 rocket was launched with the intention of orbiting the moon and photographing possible landing sites, but the launch was a disaster. This effectively ended the Russians’ involvement in the race to the moon, clearing the way for the US to establish its dominance.

On 16 July, the country did just that. Apollo 11 launched from Cape Canaveral and four days later Neil Armstrong took “one giant leap for mankind.” Just a little over eight years after JFK committed the US to send men to the moon, the dream was realised.

The programme may have been driven more by nationalism and politics than science, and it undoubtedly cost an enormous amount of money. But it is probably humanity’s greatest technical achievement, so far. And even as a 60-year-old man, I still feel every bit as inspired by it as I did at the age of 10, watching the otherworldly figures of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bounce across the grey screen of a 1960s TV set.

Happy anniversary, moon landing. And here’s to the next 50 years of exploration and adventure. May the force be with you (sorry!).

Published: 9 July 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like – If men are from Mars and women from Venus, who has furthest to travel home?

You may also enjoy – Weather myths: fact or fiction?

Jobs currently available

Featured job
Management Accountant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £30,000 - £38,000
Location: Haverhill
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906965
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group have a superb opportunity for an experienced Management Accountant to join our client on a fulltime, permanent basis working near to Haverhill.

Reporting directly to the CEO of this fast growing successful company. The business is currently growing at 20% per annum and is at a pivotal moment in its development. New premises have been purchased and new sales and accounting systems are due to be installed in the coming 6 months. This role will be part of the senior management team and involved in key decision making for the business going forward.

Responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for the whole of the accounts department and production of the monthly management report and KPIs.
  • Managing the accounts assistant who has primary responsibility for the purchase ledger.
  • Managing UK and overseas payments, controlling deposits and advance payments.
  • Cash management including weekly forecasting of cash and credit control.
  • Running all aspects of payroll.
  • Management of Royal London pension scheme.
  • Responsibility of all company insurances and utility suppliers.
  • Working with the Operations Manager, analysing profit and cost variances to budget.
  • Implementation of new accounting system, which will free up purchase ledger clerk to take some of the more administrative elements of this role.
  • Job and departmental profit analysis.
  • Monthly VAT returns and Bank reconciliations.
  • Ad-hoc tasks necessary for the for Senior Managers and Directors.
  • Management of personnel files.
  • Administration and other duties relevant to the role.

The ideal candidate will possess the following skills:

  • Experience working in a fast moving busy office environment.
  • Ability to work to deadlines, quickly and accurately under pressure.
  • Ability to prioritise.
  • Discretion required due to nature of the role.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Confident in using Microsoft Excel.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
  • ACA/ACCA/CIMA Qualifications are desirable but not essential.

 

Read more
New job
Conceptual / Creative Designer
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: Negotiable
Location: South Woodham Ferrers
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908654
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group Ltd is currently recruiting for a Conceptual / Creative Designer for their client based near South Woodham Ferrers.

Successful applicant will be responsible for producing clear concise concept / creative designs, which follow the brief and brand guidelines given by the Account manager / client. This position requires understanding / interaction across all departments within the business.

You should be willing to go the extra mile to satisfy the Customers visions. Be able to work as part of a strong team but also be able to work independently. As you grow into the role there will be occasions to visit Clients with the Sales team to take briefs and support them throughout the initial stage of the project.

Skill sets:

  • Highly Creative - To be able to create concepts from a client’s brief, following their guide and maybe offering some alternatives.
  • Vision - Visualise and bring to reality the client’s brief. Being on-trend with the current and up-coming market.
  • Hand Sketching - Able to hand sketch in a “live” situation in front of a client to offer visual options as part of a brief / discussion.
  • Concepts - Able to produce realistic rendered concepts to clearly show the options as outlined in the brief.
  • Technical - Bearing in mind that any concepts would require manufacture – allowing for construction and materials.

Duties and responsibilities:

  • Time management and planning workload with Head of Design
  • Take client brief either from Account manager or Client
  • Assist Technical when workload allows
  • A ‘can do’ attitude

Qualifications:

  • Excellent level of knowledge using Studio Max
  • Good level of knowledge using SolidWorks
  • Ability to use Adobe Suite
  • Good problems solving skills
  • Excellent Communication skills
  • Good Word & Excel skills 
Read more
Graduate Technical Designer
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: Negotiable
Location: South Woodham Ferrers
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908655
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group is currently recruiting for a Graduate / Junior Technical Designer for their client based near South Woodham Ferrers.

This is a fantastic opportunity for a candidate who is interested in Product Design to be mentored whilst working alongside a senior designer, producing clear concise drawings / designs, which follow the brief and brand guidelines given by the Account manager / client. This position requires understanding / interaction across all departments within the business.

Duties and responsibilities:

  • Create new products, including 3D designs, prototyping and testing.
  • Execute robust design process and continuous improvement.
  • Take client brief either from Account manager or Client.
  • Time management and planning workload with Head of Design.
  • A ‘can do’ attitude.

Qualifications:

  • Excellent level of knowledge using SolidWorks
  • Good level of knowledge using Adobe Suite
  • Experience with the POS sector would be advantageous
  • Product Design degree would be preferred
  • Good problems solving skills
  • Excellent Communication skills
  • Good Word & Excel skills

 

 

Read more
HR Advisor
Sector: Recruitment and HR
Salary: To be discussed on application
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908633
About the role

Are you an experienced HR Advisor, with strong employee relations experience?

Do you have extensive experience in dealing with disciplinaries and grievances?

Just Recruitment Group is currently recruiting for a HR Advisor for their every growing client based in Witham.

You will be responsible for the delivery of a full range of Human Resource service, and Support the Head of HR and Senior HR Business partner to drive the HR Agenda in the aligned functional business.

Main Duties and Responsibilities will include:

  • Providing professional and confidential HR advice, support and administration across the full range of HR activity; including employee relations issues, terms and conditions of service, policies and procedures
  • Managing employment relations issues such as discipline, grievance, appeals, change and absence management are dealt with fairly, commercially and pragmatically. Identifying any potential risks to the business, conducting thorough investigations, fully considering the right course of action and identifying areas for improvement
  • Assisting with the monitoring, reviewing and updating all HR policies and ensuring these are in line with the current legislation
  • Informing employees of their rights and entitlements and keeping them up to date on any changes that are made
  • Managing staff relationships, responding to any queries or problems that they have and managing their expectations 
  • Supporting the Senor HR Business Partner with HR projects, change management activity etc.

Skills Required:

  • Experience operating in a past paced professional environment
  • Extensive experience of conducting investigations and supporting, coaching and guiding managers through investigations
  • Strong working knowledge of employment legislation
  • Experience of guiding managers and providing HR advice and counsel on performance management issues, grievances, disciplinaries, long term and short-term absence matters, and other employee relations case management and advisory including change management and redundancy processes
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills with experience of writing appropriate HR policies, procedures and documentation that are legally compliant and manage risk in an appropriate manner
  • Experience of reviewing and updating employee policies and procedures
  • Can do attitude and work ethic with a persistent and willingness to work as a team
  • Ability to prioritise and handle multiple projects and daily activities
  • Strong working knowledge of employment legislation

Experience Required:

  • Previous experience of operating at HR Advisor level within a busy, commercial environment
  • Previous experience of managing large volume of employee relations issues
  • IT Literate including experience of the Microsoft Office packages to an advanced level

Qualifications Required:

  • CIPD or equivalent HR qualification and / or qualified by experience

 

This is a full-time, permanent position working Monday – Friday 37.5 hours per week.

If you are interested in this fantastic opportunity, then apply today!!

Read more
Junior Digital Account Manager
Sector: Marketing, Advertising and PR
Salary: £19,000 - £20,000 per annum
Location: Kelvedon
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908630
About the role

Do you have an interest in Digital Marketing and have worked in an Agency dealing with a variety of accounts?

Just Recruitment Group is delighted to be assisting their prestigious Agency Client in the recruitment of their Junior Digital Account Manager vacancy.

Duties will include:

  • Liaising with clients to create project briefs
  • Liaising with different teams in order to produce projects for your assigned clients
  • Discussing your clients’ needs with different teams, and any appropriate research
  • Briefing jobs into the studio throughout each stage of a project – ensuring each job is always managed and processed in the correct way
  • Taking a lead in project management activity
  • Responding proactively to all client requirements
  • Providing quotes and managing invoices
  • Creating close working relationships with your assigned clients

This is an excellent opportunity for someone with previous Agency experience.

This is a full-time, permanent position working Monday – Friday 08.30 – 17.00.

Due to the location of the role you must have your own transport.

If you are interested, then apply today!

Read more
Windows 10 Desktop Support Analyst
Sector: Information Technology
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Tiverton, Devon
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 908627
About the role

WINDOWS 10 DESKTOP SUPPORT ANALYST – 6 MONTH FTC

The main focus of this role will be to work on the Windows 10 upgrade and full training on what is required to undertake the updates will be provided, however our client is looking for an individual who has a keen interest in IT and who would like an opportunity to step into IT.

Scope:

Reporting to the IT Manager, the Desktop Support Analyst will be instrumental in assisting with our company wide Windows 10 upgrade to user PCs. The ideal candidate will have a keen interest in IT/Computing with an aptitude to logically troubleshoot and diagnose problems.

This placement will initially be for 6-months to roll out the upgrade and is an opportunity for the right candidate to gain some excellent skills and experience.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Deploy and configure Windows 10 operating system on computer workstations.
  • Install software applications.
  • Install peripheral devices and drivers.
  • Perform troubleshooting to diagnose and resolve problems.
  • Create new WDS images periodically.

Role Requirements:

  • Keen interest in IT/computers.
  • General IT knowledge.
  • Understanding of installing and configuring Windows operating system, software and device drivers.
  • An understanding of computer networks and Active Directory would be an advantage.

Hours of Work:

  • 35 hours per week.
  • Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm with 1-hour for lunch.

In return we offer:

  • Competitive salary, after a qualifying period.
  • Company pension contributions.
  • Generous holiday allocation of 25 days per year (full time allocation) plus bank holidays.
  • Free on-site parking.
Read more
Pay Per Click Advertising Executive
Sector: Media and Internet
Salary: £18,000 - £20,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908435
About the role

Are you a highly skilled Account Executive with digital/PPC experience looking for a new role?

Our client based on the outskirts of Colchester are looking for a PPC Account Executive to join their team due to expansion.

You will be super-organised, enthusiastic and a creative individual who likes to use your initiative and be happy to work on your own and as part of our team.

Ideally you will have some experience in digital marketing, or have studied a relevant degree – this is not essential but is highly desirable. You will have a passion for search marketing and all things Digital, with the ability to think on your feet, manage your time effectively, have a hunger to lead and be a confident presenter and communicator.

Key Duties include but are not limited to:

  • Be a key member of the Digital team, devising creative and effective Google Search, Display and YouTube ad campaigns.
  • Refining data driven strategies for clients, utilising web analytics, Data studio reporting and researching new ad formats.
  • Involvement in content production across channels for ads and client proposals.
  • Communicating with clients & account handlers frequently with an opportunity to manage your own client base.
  • Coming up with new, fresh ideas on processes and products.
  • Work closely with media Directors.

Experience/Skills/Attributes:

  • A passion for digital marketing, an interest in technology, a thirst for knowledge and a creative mind.
  • Computer literacy (especially MS Office).
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills as well as a confident telephone manner.
  • Good understanding of Search engines and Google in particular.
  • Competency in Google Analytics.
  • Happy to work individually and as part of a team.
  • Excellent time management skills and attention to detail.
  • Degree (or equivalent level qualification) in a relevant subject, or relevant experience.
  • Google Ads and Analytics qualifications.

This is a highly exciting role - working for a growing team and working in a highly creative environment.

Free parking, discounted gym membership and a competitive salary are all on offer.

Progression and training is also available for the right candidate.

Read more