The 1960's: Space Race

Ryan Hockemeyer

Space Race by Deborah Cadbury

This book covered every in and out of the conflicts between America and the Soviet Union, going into details that have never been published before and gave me a great understanding and base for this project.
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Apollo 11

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The American Dream

The 1960s was a period of incredible turbulence, upheaval, and change in the social and political realms of American culture. It saw the nation still entangled in the Cold War with the Soviet Union that had been going on since the 1940s. To promote its image in the world to counter the Soviets communist propaganda, the United States had begun to project positive imagery and symbols of American Life, many knowing this as the "American Dream". The Space Race provided an ideal platform on which to continue this effort in the fight against communism.

Why Space...?

Why was "Space" so important?

Well, after World War II drew to a close in the mid 20th century, a new conflict began. The worlds two greatest powered nations, democratic, capitalist United States, and the communist Soviet Union, were in a battle of nuclear and technological advances between each other.

Beginning in the 1950s, Space was becoming the next place both nations were headed, as both nations thrived to prove its superior technology and military firepower.

The Race Began

Following the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union were in constant non-physical battle to develop new technological advances faster then the other. The wide known area called "Area 51" in the deserts of Nevada, was the place the United States kept their top secret air crafts in development. Purposes of developing these crafts were so the United States could fly high enough above the Soviets without being detected on radars. Little did we know the Soviets were a step ahead of the U.S.

U.S. Reacts

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik. This was a date that would go down in history forever as it was the Earths first artaficial satellite, and the first man made object to be placed in Earths orbit. The short time the Soviets had to spy on Americans would benefit them in many ways but would not last that long. They got to see what was being built in Area 51 jumping them ahead of the Americans once again.

On January 31, 1958, the United States Army launched their first satellite into space, the "Explorer I", and later that year, President Eisenhower signed a public order creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which was a federal agency dedicated to space exploration.

Shortly following the launch of Explorer I, a non military group of scientists from the U.S. launched another satellite into space, the "Vanguard-1", making it the United States second successful satellite launch.

What the U.S had planned

In 1959 the Soviets took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, which was the first space probe to hit the moon. Shortly following in April 1961, the Soviets had the first human to orbit the Earth.

So as this is a constant battle of advances with either nation, the U.S put loads of effort forth into sending a man to space. Not so much a man...

On May 1961, the Americans flew a chimpanzee out of Earths atmosphere and into orbit for test practices.

Later that May, President Kennedy made a promising point that the U.S. would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. By the end of the year, the foundations for the Apollo missions were falling into place.

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The Apollo's

In the month of December 1968, Apollo 8 was the first manned space craft to orbit the moon and return successfully. Though in July of 1969, all space flight, tests, programs and groups, were about to change forever.

On July 16, 1969 the Apollo 11 space mission launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying the U.S. astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins, as they were headed to the moon for the first lunar landing attempt in history. Hoping to keep the promise that President Kennedy made to the nation.

The First Lunar Landing

Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon on July 20, 1969, at 8:17 PM, with only about 25 seconds left of fuel. After touch down they began to plan the placements of both the "Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package" (EASEP), and the U.S. Flag.

It wasn't until a day later on July 21 that Armstrong opened the hatch to begin his decent to the lunar surface. At 2:51, AM Armstrong planted his left foot on the surface of the Moon.

After Armstrong described the surface of the Moon as "very fine-grained" and "almost like a powder", he leaped of the Eagle and 6 hours after landing on the moon, said his famous line, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

In the matter of seconds, everyone around the world was watching the first man ever to walk on the moon. The Americans won the race, and President Kennedy's promise was one that came true.

Neil Armstrong: one giant leap for mankind

Returning Home

On July 24, the astronauts from the Apollo 11 returned from their mission and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean aboard Columbia. Once returned, President Nixon who was now President at the time, welcomed the astronauts home and said, "As a result of what you've done, the world has never been closer together before.

The Conclusion of the Race

By landing on the moon, the United States had "won" the race that began with Sputniks launch in 1957. From beginning to end the American publics attention was captivated by the space race, and the developments of the Soviet and U.S. space programs were heavily covered in the national media. Especially with the new spectrum of live television, brought much interest in the race itself.


The two superpowers had been battling for the past decade to try and prove to the world who was the most superior. Communism vs Capitalism. Other nations during this decade were choosing between the two superpower nations for who to follow, and the Space Race was a symbol for which system worked better. It was important to both nations that their side won, to show which political system worked, and which did not.

As a result of this, the American astronauts were viewed as Americas ultimate heroes, while the Soviets were stilled viewed as evil enemies, with their determination to surpass America and spread their word of a communist government.

Headlines/Current Events/News/

Interviews & Videos

Neil Armstrong interview, BBC 1970.
Buzz Aldrin Remembers "Apollo 11" Landing, 40 Years Later
Michael Collins honors Neil Armstrong

Works Cited

Cadbury, Deborah. Space Race: The Epic Battle between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.

First Step on Moon. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11_first_step.jpg>.

"Neil Armstrong: One Giant Leap for Mankind." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.

Washington Post. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Land_on_the_Moon_7_21_1969-repair.jpg>.

"The Space Race." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 15 May 2015. <http://www.history.com/topics/space-race>.

"Neil Armstrong Interview, BBC 1970." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.

Eagle. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11_Lunar_Module_Eagle_in_landing_configuration_in_lunar_orbit_from_the_Command_and_Service_Module_Columbia.jpg>.

"Buzz Aldrin Remembers "Apollo 11" Landing, 40 Years Later." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.

Earth from Atmosphere. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Earth_from_Apollo_11_after_translunar_injection.jpg>.

"NYT Men Walks on Moon." Nytimes.com. N.p., n.d. Web.

Apollo Crew. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11.jpg>.

Apollo Blastoff. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11_Launch2.jpg>.

"Michael Collins Honors Neil Armstrong." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 May 2015.

Buzz on the Moon. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Aldrin_Apollo_11_original.jpg>.

"Where Were You When Apollo 11 Landed On The Moon? - World Science Festival." World Science Festival. N.p., 17 July 2014. Web. 15 May 2015.

Apollo 11 Logo. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11_insignia.png>.

Columbia. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Splashdown_3.jpg>.

PSEPE. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Aldrin_with_experiment.jpg>.

3 Days Out. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#/media/File:Apollo_11_Earth.jpg>.