The Space Race
The superpower competition in space exploration technology that paralleled the Cold War competition in arms developments. Coming on the heels of the Soviet Union’s hydrogen bomb tests, Sputnik shocked and stunned the American public. In our 1950s smug American world we found it hard to believe that the Russians were beating us into space. We stood outside and looked up into the sky when Sputnik was due to pass over in the foolish hope of catching a glimpse of this new moon. It gave us a creepy feeling to have the Russian satellite up there, looking back at us.
USSR continued its lead in space exploration with the first person in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who orbited earth in Vostok 1, April 12, 1961. Less than a month later Allan Shepard became the first American in space. That same month, President Kennedy created the Apollo program designed to land a person on the moon “before the decade is out.”
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