Chandler Pettus

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John Glenn

Later that May, President John F. Kennedy made the bold, public claim that the U.S. would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In February 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, and by the end of that year, the foundations of NASA’s lunar landing program were in place.

Apollo's Setback and Sergey Koroyov

Apollo suffered a setback in January 1967, when three astronauts were killed after their spacecraft caught fire during a launch simulation. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union’s lunar landing program proceeded, partly due to internal debate over its necessity and to the untimely death of Sergey Korolyov in January 1966, chief engineer of the Soviet space program.

Apollo 8 and 11

December 1968 saw the launch of Apollo 8, the first manned space mission to orbit the moon, from NASA’s massive launch facility on Merritt Island, near Cape Canaveral, Florida. On July 16, 1969, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins set off on the Apollo 11 space mission, the first lunar landing attempt.

Neil Armstrong

After landing successfully on July 20, Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon’s surface; he famously called the moment “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”


The US technically "won" the Space Race because that begun with Sputnik's launch in 1957.