A race to claim the final frontier

What was the Space Race?

It was ultimately a race between the Soviet Union and the United States to see who could expand the frontier of space faster. But it was so much more than that. It became directly involved with the Cold War, where the tensions were high and the competition was on.

Some Facts

  • In 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, the Sputnik into space.
  • In the US, NASA was created for space exploration in 1958
  • American Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
  • President Kennedy made a statement that the US would have men on the moon by the end of the decade in 1961
  • The budget for NASA, in 1961-1964 was increased by about 500% in order to win the Space Race.
  • The Apollo program launched the first man-controlled mission that orbited the moon in 1968, when the Soviets were having major setbacks trying to get to the moon.
  • In 1969, the US had astronauts on the moon and they unofficially won the race.

The Race was a representation of the conflict.

Each country wanted to top the other, leading to a back and forth mentality.

The Space Race and the Cold War

With the already high tensions building between the two countries, when the Sputnik was launched the US took it as a challenge to beat the Soviets. Like in the Cold War, both wanted to prove their superiority, and space was just another way to do that. With each country topping what the other had done, the race became a representation of the Cold War, each trying to be better that the next.

Space was just a pawn for each country to use in proving their superiority to the other.