There are several factors, which fueled the Space Race, which was fought between the US and the Soviet Union Republic. This was the place where they decided to transfer their intense rivalry, which was caused by the Cold War. This was started off after the Second World War and was fought using non-traditional methods and weaponry. Three main areas were used to show the world which nation was more powerful and included the political or economic, military, and that of technology. The two nations sought ways to outdo each other and win support globally.
The Space Race was basically about carrying out extensive and expensive space exploration missions. The Soviets were the first to send or shoot an artificial satellite named Sputnik into the earth’s orbit. This happened on October 4, 1957, and appeared to catch the Americans completely by surprise. The response of the American public and the authorities was to embark on gathering as much intelligence information as they could about the progress the Soviets were making with regard to space expeditions. The US government didn’t wish to be caught off-guard ever again.
One year later, as part of its contribution to the Space Race, the US government launched Explorer I. The same year saw the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly referred to as NASA. It was created during the watch of US President Dwight Eisenhower. This was a federal agency that was charged with carrying out any space voyages considered necessary as long as the US did not lose the race to the Soviets. In addition to NASA, two security-oriented operations were created under US Air Force and CIA.
The Soviets were not willing to lose the Space Race initiative to the US. In 1959, they launched Luna 2, which was the first probe sent to space, specifically to the moon. In 1961, a Soviet cosmonaut known as Yuri Gagarin became the first man ever to orbit the earth. He did this using a spacecraft christened Vostok 1. The Americans had tested their own model earlier on before Vostok was launched, though, on their part, they used chimpanzees. Alan Shepard was the first American to use this spacecraft to travel to space, but not the earth’s orbit, on May 5, 1961.
Even though the Soviets had beaten them by sending the first man to travel around the earth’s orbit, the first American to achieve the same feat was John Glenn in February of 1962. The next phase of the Space Race was to see which country would land the first man on the moon. The US project, named Apollo, proceeded smoothly except for a short period when three of its astronauts were killed during a simulation exercise. The Soviets were arguing about whether this was really necessary and seemed to suffer a setback when its chief engineer, Sergey Koroloy, died in 1966.
The Space Race was effectively won by the US when on July 20, 1969, as part of the Project Apollo crew, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The Americans were also the first to orbit the moon.