The Space Race By: Faith and Mallory


Propaganda for the Space Race

The Space Race was a technological competition between the United States and the U.S.S.R. which prompted the United States to launch the first space shuttle to the moon. By 1950, World War II had ended, but its conclusion created a power struggle between the capitalist regime of America, and the communist nation known as the U.S.S.R. which would cause both sides to seek dominance in all areas including: economical, technological, and political fields.


This is Sputnik, the worlds first artificial satellite.

The race between the two opposing countries raged on when the U.S.S.R, on October 4th, 1957, released the worlds first artificial satellite, called Sputnik, into space. This was the first ever man-made object to be put in Earth's orbit. Sputnik (Russian for 'Traveler') was launched using a Soviet R-7 missile launcher, and when it was released the United States realized how much power the Soviet nation possessed, and quickly wanted to retaliate.

US Retaliation

NASA logo

The United States was quick to act, by 1958 the U.S. launched their own satellite, called Explorer I. Later President Dwight D. Eisenhower created a public order creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, a federal agency dedicated to space exploration.

The Race continues

Project Mercury in progress

After, the establishment of NASA the U.S.S.R decided to launch the Luna 2, in 1959, the first probe to go to the moon. By 1961, the U.S.S.R had sent the first ever astronaut into orbit, named Yuri Gagarin, in the capsule-like shuttle called Vostok 1. However, the US was quick to respond, within no time the US began working to send a person into orbit, the project was named Project Mercury. Test launches using chimpanzees were executed, and eventually on May 5th, 1961 the first American astronaut was launched into space, but not into orbit. The momentum continued when President John F. Kennedy said that before the end of the decade they would have a person on the moon. The foundation of NASA had been created, and by 1962 John Glenn became the first American to go into orbit, and later NASA had created a lunar landing operation known as Project Apollo.

Apollo 11

Apollo 11 launching

By 1964 NASA's budget was increased by almost 500%, thousands of employees were hired to improve space technology. However, in 1967 three astronauts were killed in a launch simulation, hindering the progress of the Apollo. The Soviet's lunar landing program was facing similar issues, many thought it wasn't necessary, and when the Soviet space chief engineer died the concerns over whether the program should continue became more prominent. However, by December 1968 Apollo 8 was launched, it was the first manned space mission to orbit the moon. By 1969 U.S. astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins, were launched into space in Apollo 11, becoming the first ever manned mission to the moon. The landing was successful, and the famous quote "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" was uttered as Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon on July 20th 1969.


Neil Armstrong on the moon

By landing on the moon, the U.S. effectively won the space race that had begun with Sputnik’s launch in 1957. For their part, the Soviets made four failed attempts to launch a lunar landing craft between 1969 and 1972, including a spectacular launch-pad explosion in July 1969. From beginning to end, the American public’s attention was captivated by the space race, and the various developments by the Soviet and U.S. space programs were heavily covered in the national media. This frenzy of interest was further encouraged by the new medium of television. Astronauts came to be seen as the ultimate American heroes, and earth-bound men and women seemed to enjoy living vicariously through them. Soviets, in turn, were pictured as the ultimate villains, with their massive, relentless efforts to surpass America and prove the power of the communist system.

Space race video

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