Space Race US vs. USSR

The space race started shortly after the Cold War started. The Cold War started because after World War II the US and USSR were the clear super powers of the world. The space race was a race between the US and USSR to see who can get to space first.


On October 4, 1957 Russia launched "Sputnik" (Russian for traveler). Sputnik was the worlds first satellite and first man-made object to be put into Earths orbit.

A year later, the US launched its own satellite, called Explorer 1. It doesn't look like the typical satellite but was equipped with everything it needed. As shown in the picture above. One of the main people behind Explorer 1 was rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

In that same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a push for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA is a federal agency that deals with space exploration. Eisenhower also created two national securities that were involved with space. The first was led by the US Air Force that was used to exploit the military potentials of space. The second was led by the CIA, the Air Force, and the National Reconnaissance Office. It was nicknamed "Corona" and used orbiting satellites to spy on the Soviet Union and its allies.

Top left: Yuri Gagarin.. Top right: Luna 2.. Bottom left: Alan Shepard.. Bottom right: John Glenn

In 1959 the Soviets put Luna 2 on the moon. This is the first space probe to touch the moon. Then in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth. He was in the spacecraft Vostok 1. The Americans knew they were losing the space race so they sped up their space program. They made a cone-shaped spacecraft that they tested using chimpanzees. They finally launched Alan Shepard into space. He became the first American to go into space. But not into orbit. Later that year John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

President John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy made a bold statement saying that the US will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. NASA made a project for this called Project Apollo. From 1961-1964, NASA's budget increased nearly 500%. In December 1968, NASA launched Apollo 8. Apollo 8 was the first manned space mission to orbit the moon. Then in 1969, Apollo 11 was the first lunar landing attempt. Apollo 11's crew consisted of Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Apollo 11 was successful and Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon.

America landing the first man on the moon signaled the end of the space race. In 1975, the joint mission of Apollo-Soyuz sent Russian and American astronauts into space. When the two commanders shook hands, this served as the improvement of relations between the US and Soviet Union.


Created with images by NASA-Imagery - "space shuttle lift-off liftoff"

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