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An Overview of the Space Race

An Overview of the Space Race

The Cold War was one of the tensest eras in the history of the modern world. After World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States were the two great world powers. The two nations attempted to be the best at everything from athletics to the military might. This included an intense battle to be the first nation in space. This competition to become the first nation into space became known as the Race for Space.

In the 1950's both countries entered into programs that would get a space ship into orbit. The goal was to put a man on the Moon. In April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into space. The Americans followed in May 1961, when Alan Sheppard also was on a manned space flight. The first American to orbit the Earth was John Glenn who accomplished this in February 1962.

The race to the Moon continued for both countries during the 1960's. Both countries had moderate successes to reach the Moon. In July 1969, after previously orbiting the Moon, the United States landed the first spacecraft on the Moon. It also was the first mission where a man walked on the Moon.

In the 1980's the Cold War started to thaw out and the Space Race was over. Instead, the two countries started to work together on projects. One of the projects was the establishment of a space station where astronauts could live and work on projects in space. The race for space was very competitive for both countries, with each pushing the other to be the first into space.