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Supersonic Spies

Viewing Ideas


Before Watching

  1. The political climate of the cold war fueled the race for technological and military supremacy between the West and the Soviet Union. Have students review the technological "firsts" between the West and the Soviet Union (see partial list below). Ask students how they would define technological supremacy. At face value it may seem like the USSR comes out ahead. But do they? How might this competitive atmosphere have affected efforts to build the first supersonic passenger jet?

Date

Country

First

1947

US

person to break the sound barrier:
Charles "Chuck" Yeager in a Bell X-1 plane

1952

Britain

commercial jet liner:
deHavilland Comet 1 goes into service

1957

USSR

space satellite:
Sputnik 1 orbits Earth

1959

USSR

space probe:
Luna 2 reaches the moon

1961

USSR

person in space:
Yuri Gagarin orbits Earth in Vostok I

1963

USSR

woman in space:
Valentina Tereshkova

1968

USSR

supersonic passenger jet flight:
TU-144

1969

US

to walk on the moon:
Neil Armstrong and Edwin ("Buzz") Aldrin of the Apollo 11
mission

1971

USSR

space station:
Salyut I is launched

1975

US/USSR

joint Soviet-American space project:
Astronauts aboard Apollo and Soyuz craft rendezvous in space

1981

US

space shuttle:
United States launches reusable space shuttle Columbia



After Watching
  1. Discuss the political climate that now exists between the West and the former Soviet Union. How might this affect technological development?

Teacher's Guide
Supersonic Spies
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