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Title: Reds in space : American perceptions of the Soviet space programme from Apollo to Mir, 1967-1991
Author: Ellis, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 2448
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis reconstructs American perceptions of the Soviet space programme between the climax of the 1960s Moon Race and the USSR’s collapse. Whereas previous scholarship has focused on America’s stunned introduction to the Soviet programme with the 1957 Sputnik Crisis, this thesis explores the long-term ramifications of a communist presence in outer space, a place frequently characterised as a rejuvenating terrain that it was America’s destiny to explore, prospect and settle. America was never alone on this new frontier: it shared use of outer space with its principal geopolitical rival, a collectivist state that articulated its own prophecy of cosmic destiny. This thesis seeks to recapture American perceptions of the Soviet space programme through government documents, contemporary cultural and media material and the personal papers of prominent space experts. It argues that, long after the Apollo lunar landings, American discussion of the Soviet space programme continued to reflect hopes and fears about the future of the superpowers’ relationship. The secrecy that shrouded the Soviet programme nourished a “Shadow Programme” of rumours and speculation about Soviet activities. Duplication and infighting were largely concealed and replaced with images of a frenzied determination to surpass America and seize the space frontier. This image of Soviet determination survived the Moon Race and was only conclusively dispelled with the revelations that emerged from Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost transparency campaign. American observers often filled the gaps left by the lack of verifiable information about Soviet space plans with their own prejudices and preconceptions about the USSR. The image of a dedicated and determined Soviet programme was also used by space enthusiasts as a reproach to supposed American inaction and concern about the Soviet space threat intensified during hiatuses in the US crewed spaceflight programme. By illuminating a longer history of American engagement with the communist presence in space, this thesis demonstrates outer space’s continued importance as a political terrain. Whether as a decisive battleground for the final confrontation between capitalism and communism, or an optimistic venue for reconciliation and accommodation, outer space continued to play an important role in Cold War rhetoric and strategy.
Supervisor: Oliver, Kendrick ; Craig, Campbell Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available