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Space Race

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A model of Sputnik

The Space Race was a competition of space exploration between the Soviet Union and the United States, which lasted from 1957 to 1969. They raced to explore outer space with artificial satellites, to send humans into space, and to land them on the Moon.

The Space Race began after the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957. The term "Space Race" started as a comparison to the arms race. The Space Race became an important part of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Space technology became an extra important area in this rivalry, because of possible military uses.

  • On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to enter the Earth's orbit. This started the Space Race.
  • One part of the space race was the race to put a man into space. This first was won by the Soviet Union when Major Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth on 12 April 1961.
  • On 25 May 1961, in a speech to a joint sitting of congress, President John F Kennedy of the United States of America set the ambitious goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. The program was called the Apollo program. This also implied a challenge to the Russians to try to do it first. The Americans won this part of the race in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon and returned safely to the Earth.

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