So, 53 years ago, runs a headline in Electronics Weekly’s edition of May 10th 1961.
The story begins:
Space experts in Britain believe that the American spaceman’s short journey out of the earthj’s atmosphere last Friday may well be the turning point in the race between the USA and Russia for dominance in outer space.
Although the flight of Cdr Alan Shepard was not so impressive as the orbital journey by Major Gagarin, the American shoot contained one significant element.
This was the fact that the US astronaut had the facility to control the capsule manually, and used this facility successfully.
In this sense the American effort was closer to true space flight than the Russian orbiting.
American space attempts still suffer from their lack of a reliable high-powered launching vehicle. But this is something which can now be expected to be put right with the additional funds Congress are being asked to make available.
In instrumentation the Americans are probably well ahead of Russia in development, and certainly ahead in expertise.
Future successes in space, it is now felt, will depend on rocketry and guidance, with emphasis placed increasingly on the latter.
It is in this field that the Americans now have a real chance of taking the lead.