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.

Soviet Feats

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.

American Feats

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.

Who won the Space Race?

The US won the race to space for one reason. They landed on the moon. The Soviets did not land on the moon with a manned spacecraft until after the US did. The moon landing gave many Americans a sense of pride in their country, while many Soviets felt defeated.