Myth: The USSR Got A Head Start In The Space Race When They Launched Sputnik
The Space Race was history's ultimate dick-measuring contest -- a competition between the U.S. and the Soviets to see whose dick could reach the friggin' moon. And in October 1957, America collectively gasped when the USSR launched their Sputnik program, thereby accomplishing a true technological marvel: placing the first artificial satellite in orbit.
To quell the growing American inferiority complex and prevent space from becoming downright filthy with commies, America put on its space boy pants and established NASA within a year of Sputnik's launch.
The first week was just seeing how many Gs the scientists could reach spinning on the lone office chair.
Why It's Bullshit:
As you can probably imagine, when news of Sputnik 1 circling the cosmos reached President Eisenhower, he completely shit his pants ... if, by "shit his pants," you mean "breathed a contented sigh of relief." Oh, sure, the public freaked out about the commies taking over space, but as far as the U.S. government went, well, the Soviets were doing exactly what they wanted them to do.
See, prior to the launch of the Soviets' Sputnik program, Eisenhower's inner circle was more concerned with the legalities of space than with the technicalities of how to get there. Thanks to America's crack team of rocketry geniuses (aka former Nazis), the U.S. could have beaten Sputnik by a good year if it hadn't been for our legal worries -- namely, borders that, at the time, were considered to extend upward to infinity and beyond. So, by launching an object into orbit, other nations could potentially protest the U.S.'s illegal violation of their airspace every time it buzzed by overhead. But, by lobbing one tiny, metal beach ball into space, the USSR had just sent those concerns up in rocket smoke by setting a precedent. They paved the road for everyone else, thanks to the Russians' innate talent for not giving a shit.
"We are over the White House. Release the communism."