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During the height of the Cold War, scientific relations between American and Soviet astronomers grew deeply strained. Polemical statements by Soviet astronomers in the early 1950s caused American astronomers, including Otto Struve, Fred L. Whipple, and Leo Goldberg, to worry that political coercion had breached the integrity of the Soviet astronomical community. At the same time, Struve, Goldberg, and other U.S. astronomers faced growing pressure from State Department officials to adhere to American foreign policy objectives, including restrictions on contacts between American and Soviet scientists. By the late 1950s, American astronomers participated in a significant yet little-known effort to challenge State Department policy towards international science. Nevertheless, the close relation between U.S. scientists and the state after 1945 limited the options that American astronomers had in maintaining international cooperation in astronomy. Understanding this political and intellectual framework provides new insights into how the Cold War influenced American astronomy in the 1950s. Priority debates, competition over disciplinary leadership, and national loyalties also strongly shaped international scientific cooperation during this period.
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