For decades, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a tense race against time where only one question mattered: Who would be the first to dominate space exploration? This competition would become known as the “Space Race
On October 3, 1942, Nazi Germany launched the V-2 rocket, developed by German engineer Wernher von Braun. Flying faster than 3,500 miles per hour, the V-2 shot upward for 60 miles, escaped the Earth’s atmosphere and became the first man-made object to successfully reach the edge of space
The Space Race roared to life on October 4, 1957, when the Soviets mounted a satellite onto a rocket and launched it into orbit. It was named Sputnik, meaning “fellow traveler of Earth,” and it circled the globe every 92 minutes at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour
Soviet Union finished first at almost everything in the Space Race! They sent the first animal (a dog called Laika) and the first human (Yuri Gagarin) into orbit. They launched the first multi-person crew. They made the first space walk. They were the first to achieve unmanned orbit of the moon. They were even the first to land an unmanned capsule on the moon!
But in 1968, the Americans staged a spectacular surprise victory. The astronauts of Apollo 8 became the first humans to orbit the moon. And, in 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mission became the first humans to pilot a craft to the moon, land, and step onto its surface.
On July 17, 1975, the American Apollo and the Soviet Soyuz spacecrafts met high above the Earth and docked. Floating in space, an American astronaut and a Soviet cosmonaut reached through the open hatches of their joined ships and shook hands