The Space Race
The race between the US and the Soviet Union to reach space.
The Space Race and the Cold War
The Space Race was a huge part of the Cold War. Both countries, the US and USSR, saw the race to space as a competition and as a way to show how much better they were than the other country. Also, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, the US knew that the Soviets could launch missiles at them from space. Because of this, the US had to match the Soviets to quell the immediate threat. This series of events in the Cold War sparked what is known as the Space Race.
In 1959, the Soviets launched the first space probe to hit the moon. This probe was called the Luna 2. Two years later, the Soviets launched Vostok 1, which held Yuri Gagarin, the first person to ever orbit the earth.
While America started off in last place, they quickly came back with many feats of their own. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American is space. Less than a year later, America put John Glenn into orbit. After some setbacks, the US landed the Apollo 11 on the moon with three astronauts. Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.