The Space Race


Nov 18, 2013 (5 years and 8 months ago)


The Space Race


The Start of the Space Race

The Space Race grew out of the Cold War between the United States
and the Soviet Union, the most powerful nations after World War II.
For a half
century, the two superpowers competed for control in a
global struggle pitting a democratic society against communism.

Space was a crucial arena for this rivalry. Before a watchful world,
each side sought to demonstrate its dominance through impressive
feats in rocketry and space flight. Secret satellites kept a watchful eye
on the adversary.

Sputnik 1

History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet
Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first
artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball,
weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to
orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in
new political, military, technological, and scientific
developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single
event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.
U.S.S.R space race.

The Sputnik 1


First Artificial Satellite

Date of Milestone:

October 4, 1957


Sputnik 1

Mission Operated by:


Spacecraft Location:

Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Milestones
of Flight Gallery

Sputnik 2

The Russians launched another satellite less
than a month later called Sputnik 2. This
satellite was cone
shaped with a pressurized
cylinder for Laika, a dog. Although Laika
died after 10 days in space due to a lack of
food, the flight proved that mammals could
endure weightlessness and survive in space.

Laika and the Sputnik 2

First U.S. Satellite

Explorer 1 became America's first satellite on January 31,
1958. Following the Soviet success with Sputnik, the U.S.
Army launched a scientific satellite using a rocket that had
been developed to test guided missile components.

NASA Was Formed

The passage of the National Aeronautics
and Space Act of 1958 helped to organize
the efforts of a variety of federal, industrial,
and scientific groups into one national space

Rocket Aircraft Development

The North American X
15, a rocket
powered research aircraft, bridged
the gap between manned flight in the atmosphere and space flight. After
its initial test flights in 1959, the X
15 became the first winged aircraft to
attain hypersonic velocities of Mach 4, 5, and 6 (four to six times the speed
of sound) and to operate at altitudes well above 30,500 meters (100,000

First Human in Space

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet
cosmonaut, became the first person to fly in
space. The flight lasted 108 minutes from
liftoff to touchdown and orbited the Earth
one time. The spacecraft used was the
Vostok 1 and Gagarin ate, drank, and
practiced writing under

weightless conditions.

First U.S. Astronaut to Fly in Space

In 1961, American astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr. and

Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom achieved suborbital flights to

altitudes above 160 kilometers (100 miles).

This launch was part of the Mercury program. The seven

astronauts involved were Alan Sheppard, Gus Grissom,

Deke Slayton, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra,


Cooper, and John Glenn.

First U.S. Astronaut to Orbit the Earth

The Mercury was the spacecraft in which astronaut
John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit
the Earth. On February 20, 1962, Glenn circled the
Earth three times. The space flight lasted 4 hours and
55 minutes. "Friendship 7" landed in the Atlantic
Ocean. The Mercury program enabled the U.S. to lay
a foundation for space technology.

First Space Craft to Study Another Planet

On December 14, 1962, useful scientific information was
radioed to Earth from the vicinity of another planet for the
first time. The unmanned Mariner 2 spacecraft, with its six
scientific instruments, passed within 34,800 kilometers
(21,600 miles) of Venus. Mariner 2 indicated that Venus is
very hot and has no measureable magnetic fields or
radiation belts. On the way to Venus, Mariner 2's
instruments detected and measured the radiation, magnetic
fields and dust of interplanetary space.

First Human Space Walk

On March 18, 1965, the Soviet cosmonaut Alexi
Leonov became the first person to step outside a
spacecraft and walk in space.

On June 3, 1965, astronaut Edward H. White II
became the first American to perform an Extra
Vehicular Activity (EVA) or "spacewalk." During
his 20 minutes outside Gemini IV, White
remained connected to the spacecraft's life
and communications systems by the golden
"umbilical cord," and he used a hand
held jet
thruster to maneuver in space.

First Man on the Moon

The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" carried astronauts
Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins on
their historic voyage to the Moon and back on July 16
24, 1969.
This mission culminated in the first human steps on another
world. On July 20 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person
to set foot on the moon.

"That's one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind."

Apollo Missions

The Apollo programs advanced the country’s involvement
in space including the first mission to the moon with
Apollo 11. Later, Apollo 13 ended in near tragedy when a
malfunction in the fuel cells reduced the electrical
generating capacity of the spacecraft and caused the moon
mission to be aborted. Further Apollo missions studied the
complex geology of the moon. Apollo 15 was the first
mission to use the lunar rover to explore the moon.

Lunar Rock Sample

A lunar sample was cut from a rock collected on the
surface of the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission in
December 1972. Found near the landing site in the Valley
of Taurus
Littrow, it is an iron
rich , fine
textured volcanic
rock called basalt. It is nearly 4 billion years old.

First Space Stations

The world’s first space station, Salyut 1,
was placed into orbit on April 19,1971, by
the Soviet Union. The crew were the first
to live in the space station. The cosmonauts
spent 23 days aboard the craft, but died
during reentry due to a capsule pressure
loss. In 1986 the Soviet Union launched the
next generation of space stations, Mir,
which allowed new sections to be added.

U.S. First Space Station

America’s first manned space station,
Skylab, was launched by a Saturn V vehicle
on May 14, 1973. Skylab remained in orbit
until 1979, when the Earth’s atmosphere
dragged it inward. Large portions of Skylab
burned during reentry, but some fragments
fell on Western Australia.

Skylab in Orbit

Skylab was a 100
ton cluster of units consisting
of an orbital workshop and crew quarters. The
entire cluster provided roughly 12,000 cubic feet
of working and living space.

First International Docking

The Apollo
Soyuz Test Program in 1975, was a major step in
agreements between the U.S. And U.S.S.R. To cooperate in the
space exploration. The main goals of the joint flight were to
test and evaluate the compatibility of systems for docking, and
the transfer of astronauts from stations to spacecrafts.

Mission to Mars

Two Viking landers were the first spacecraft to conduct prolonged
scientific studies on the surface of another planet. Viking 1 began its
month journey to Mars on August 20, 1975. Viking 2 followed on
September 9. After entering Mars orbit, the spacecraft orbiters
conducted photographic surveys of the planet’s surface to assist in the
search for safe landing sites. Viking 1 landed on July 20, 1976; Viking
2 landed on September 3.

Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter, the
largest planet in the Solar System. It later became the first
made object to cross the orbit of Pluto, the farthest

The Impacts of the Space Race

Advancement in Technology.

Advancement in aerospace and aviation design
(telescopes, satellites, crafts).

Cooperation and competition between the two
super powers of the world.

New discoveries of an unknown world.

Hundreds of new milestones in space travel.

Advancements in weapons used and controlled.



Section B