The Space Race Facts

The Space Race Facts
The term "Space Race" refers to the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to explore and some would say control space. It was a part of the Cold War, as both nations used space exploration to advance their technological capabilities, which included military, and as propaganda to promote their nation's, and ideology's, perceived superiority. The Space Race actually began during World War II when the Soviets used rockets in their war against Germany, but the Germans were far ahead of them with their V1 and V2 rockets. After the war, the Soviets took control of the German's Peenemünde Army Research Center, which gave them possession of German rocket secrets, while many of the German rocket scientists, such as Wernher von Braun, fled to the United States and helped start National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Space Race officially began on October 4, 1957, when the Soviets launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite. The Soviets would follow that up a month later by launching the dog Laika into space. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarian became the first human in space on April 12, 1961 and at that point the USSR was clearly ahead of the USA. The Americans, though, under President Kennedy, countered with the Apollo Program, eventually sending the first humans to Moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.
Interesting The Space Race Facts:
Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel in space on June 16, 1963.
The "V" in the German V1 and V2 rockets stood for "victory." The V2 rocket was the first manmade device to make it into outer space in 1942.
"Cosmonaut" is the tradition Russian word for astronaut.
NASA was created on July 29, 1958 from the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. The United States Army also handled much of the government's space exploration activities before NASA was created.
Gagarian orbited the Earth one time for about an hour and a half before reentering the atmosphere and safely parachuting to Soviet soil. He was the first person dubbed a "cosmonaut."
Aland Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, 1961.
The Apollo 11 crew consisted of Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Armstrong was the first to set foot on the Moon and only he and Aldrin did so as Collins had to pilot the Lunar module.
The Apollo 11 landing coincided with the period "Détente" in the Cold War during the 1970s, when the tensions between the Americans and Soviets eased.
During the Détente, the Soviets and Americans engaged in cooperation in space, which many see as the end of the Space Race. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) of 1975 was the first cooperative American-Soviet space flight. It had a major impact on the cultural landscape of the United States during the 1970s as millions of Americans witnessed their astronauts shake hands and exchange gifts and flags with the Soviet cosmonauts.

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