A First-Person Comparison Between the Original and Modern Space Race


Telling a compelling story requires a multitude of moving parts including an interesting subject matter, digital medium, and method of storytelling. With our final project, we want to tell the ongoing story of the Modern Space Race in a unique way that is different from the numerous informational articles published online.

The original space race over 50 years ago was fueled by the Cold War and began with the Soviet launch of Sputnik as the world’s first artificial satellite to orbit in 1957. Each superpower was attempting to prove the supremacy of their technology, military prowess, and their political-economic system by extension. The advent of television united many people and allowed Americans to live vicariously through the astronauts of the time. This massive conglomeration of resources and knowledge resulted in the United States winning the space race in 1969 when Apollo 11’s lunar lander touched down on the lunar surface. While the the race to put a man on the moon has been over for half a century, its legacy remains impactful in the minds of future scientists and engineers.

In contrast, the Modern Space Race refers to the renewed resurgence of interest and investment into space travel and technology in the present age. This is set in the context of humans, in particular the United States, finally deciding to go back to the moon after over 60 years without human presence.

What sets today apart from then is the way in which we are going back to the moon. Instead of huge superpowers creating government agencies to head massive projects in a show of dominance, NASA instead gives contracts to private companies to develop products for them while funding each bidders’ own research and development for their respective missions whether it is to make humans an interplanetary species or make a profit. These differences in reasons for wanting to travel to the stars and the push factors that make them feasible are representative of the change in culture from the 20th to 21st century. This is quite evident in the Artemis program, the successor to the Apollo program, which has the same mission of going to the moon but achieves its goals by leveraging competition and the free market by legacy and startup aerospace companies. We want to make a first-person narrative that presents a comparison of not only the space races, but American culture across time to thoroughly exhibit what has changed in the last six decades.


Interesting Numbers Regarding the Saturn V and Space Launch System (SLS) Rockets

Years Apart

More Thrust (tons)

Feet Shorter

More Payload (lbs)

Historical Comparison

Click the button below to explore an interactive timeline for more in-depth analysis of the major events of both the Original and Modern Space Race