Whose Aerospace technology is better, Russian or American?
depends who you ask obviously
but in general the competition between the two created a lot of great stuff that we enjoy today
also Russians have perfected vector thrusters on SU-37, although the Americans have stealth F/A 22. Of course SU 37 is no match for F 22 but it just shows there are different levels of expertise and finesse. And as far as Space is concerned, the Americans have won this one, but today there is a new competition - China and ESA.
Ironically, stealth is a product of Russian math/science: so maybe Russians are better scientists, Americans are better at turning it into technology?
I have also heard that the Space Race was all in our heads - the Russians didn't have a prayer of reaching the moon and only beat us for a couple of years in the beginning at great risk (and a few deaths) to astronauts.
My opinion is:
-Some years ago (1950-1970) the Russians were better scientists, and they had a lot of money to research and design. USA's scientists were scientists recollected of other parts of the world (Von Karman, Von Braun, Prandtl are examples of these) and USA have a lot of money to research. It was an equalled quarrel.
-(1970-1990) Russia have great scientists but no money. USA's foreign (or collected) scientists have taught a lot of native american scientists. USA have money and a great budget to research.
-(1990 to today). Russia have great scientists and probably they are not enough known and they haven't got enough money to make their theories possible, so that they haven't got any chance to show the world their great achievements. USA have their proper scientists but they also are provided with many foreign ones. And USA remains having a lot of money and scientific budgets.
In order to turn something into technology it is necessary two things: a complete set of well prepared engineers and scientists, and MONEY. Russia and many countries surrounding USA (included Spain) have the first one. BUT USA is the only country that nowadays have enough money to turn theory into technology.
The second is almost a myth. The Russians always had better rocket engines (in fact they still do - the US's newest Atlas uses a Russian rocket engine). We always were ahead in the other aspects of the space (and still are, our satellites are a lot better).
They could have beat us if they weren't plagued by a lot of bureaucratic infighting and if they hadn't underestimated our capability. There was a belief that if they were finding it difficult to build a booster to go from the surface of the Earth to the Moon, then we certainly hadn't made as much progress as we were letting on. They could have beaten us by a two step process. Launch the spaceship into orbit in a couple of pieces (payload, booster, etc). Launch from orbit. It would have been a push, since both countries had opted for the big booster from the surface option, but either side would have had a chance to push a Moon mission up with that option (it's actually more surprising the US didn't opt for that, since we were usually lagging in the booster area).
The big problem that really did the Russians in was how to land and return. The lunar lander gave us our big success. The Russians would have needed a significantly better rocket than ours using their plan.
The Russian space program also wasn't more dangerous than the US. They had a fatality during a re-entry, while we had a fatality were during ground testing. I think people liked to float that idea to explain away some of the Russians early successes. (Some of their ideas certainly seemed risky, like no space suits for one early mission).
I think one area we can claim superiority in is in avionics systems.
Back in the early stages of Vietnam, it was the Russians that blew us away with the MiG 15 (for example). We had to work hard to catch up with the F-86. When the Soviets had money, I'd say we were on par. Different, but equal kind of thing. The space race is a tough one to call too.
On the basis of following a couple of Russian science journals & working with a couple of researchers from the country I've usually come to the conclusion that they've always had some great minds there ... usually the problem is in the implementation, where they traditionally lack resources and probably due to this the quality of work (engineering) can be a bit sloppy. So which one leads to a better end product ...
The question has to be tailored to something more specific than general aerospace. It's dependant on what your comparisons are made with and how. Are we ahead in the space race? By the fact that we have a partially reusabele more advanced space vehicle..possably, but the Russians developed and atmospheric flight tested one also (the Buran). Ours is grounded currently while we figure out what to do better to prevent another misshap while the Russians are still launching Soyuz capsules on Vostok rockets (that's 30 year old technology at least).....We laughed at how primative some of the avionics systems were in the MiG 25 when one was given to us by a defecting pilot because they were still useing vacuum tube technology in things we had gone solid state in, untill we relized that that was a cheap way of hardening a system against an EMP (tubes hold up better vs solid state electronics when hit by EMP), of course you can shield against that. The Russians were closer on the heals of us for the moon race than most people think. They had a LEM developed and were getting ready to test it in space. Their similiar rocket to our Saturn V had problems between the fist stage cut off and second stage ignitian (it kept blowing up). But they were working on one and continued to try and get to the moon for some time after we went there.
Just because we won the space race with the (at the time) Soviet Union or because our stuff is still going and theirs is rotting on the field for lack of funding for upkeep and maintenence isn't a comparison. The allies in WW II beat a technologically superior Nazi Germany because our economy could crank out more equipment then they could and we had a bigger manpower pool.
The question is to general in nature to answer, sorry for the rant folks.
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