Space Race Timeline

  • Introduction

    The Space Race was a competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, to see who could achieve spaceflight capability first. The technology required to rapidly achieve spaceflight was viewed as a necessity. This led to the developments of artificial satellites, space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. This opened up many new possibilities for technology and helped create the technology used today.
  • Sputnik 1

    Sputnik 1
    Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite that was launched by the Soviet Union. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit where it orbited for three weeks before its batteries died. It then silently orbited for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere. Tracking and studying Sputnik 1 from Earth provided scientists with valuable information on the density of the upper atmosphere and other scientific findings.
  • Sputnik 2

    Sputnik 2
    A Soviet space dog named Laika was the first animal to orbit the Earth in Sputnik 2. Little was known about how spaceflight affects living creatures. The technology to de-orbit was not developed, so it was unexpected for Laika to survive. Scientists believed humans would be unable to survive the conditions of outer space. This launch helped pave the way for human spaceflight and providing scientists with data on how living organisms react to spaceflight environments.
  • Explorer 1

    Explorer 1
    Explorer 1 was the first satellite launched by the United States that was sent into space. This occurred a year after the Soviet Union launches. The development of new technology during the Explorer 1 launch helped scientists create instruments such as the cosmic ray detector that helped measure the radiation environment in Earth orbit. The Explorer 1 mission followed the first two Soviet Union's launches of Sputnik 1 and 2. This began the Space Race between the two nations.
  • The Creation of NASA

    The Creation of NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created by the US and replaced the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). NASA was created to oversee the space activities of the U.S. The responsibility of space exploration was a military venue but the U.S military was incapable of keeping up the space race. Most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing, the Skylab space station, and the Space Shuttle.
  • Korabl-Sputnik 2/ Sputnik 5

    Korabl-Sputnik 2/ Sputnik 5
    The Korabl-Sputnik 2 also known as Sputnik 5 was an artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union. The spacecraft carried two dogs named Belka and Strelka, forty mice, two rats, and a variety of plants, as well as a television camera, which took images of the dogs. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. This mission aimed to test the effects of space on other living organisms before launching a human into space.
  • Project Mercury/ Ham the Chimp

    Project Mercury/ Ham the Chimp
    Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States. Its goal was to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely before the Soviet Union. Ham, a US chimpanzee, becomes the first hominid/ great ape in space and the first to successfully survive the landing. Ham flew on the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission as a part of Project Mercury. Ham's name is an acronym for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center that prepared him for his mission.
  • Vostok 1

    Vostok 1
    The Soviet Union launch the Vostok 1 into orbit where Yuri Gagarin makes a single orbit around the Earth and becomes the first man to reach space. He remained in space for one hour and forty-eight minutes before landing in Russia making him the first human to cross into outer space. The Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight of the Vostok program and the first spaceflight with a crew. This proved that humans could withstand the conditions of space travel and survive.
  • Voskhod 2

    The Voskhod 2 spacecraft had only two crew members, Pavel Belyayev and Alexei Leonov. Alexei Leonov left his spacecraft in a specialized spacesuit and conducted the first spacewalk for twelve-minute. Malfunctions occurred where the suit had ballooned. He was forced to bleed off some of his suit's pressure, eventually going below safety limits. This showed that although humans could withstand the conditions of space, there were many necessary technical developments to improve safety of the crew.
  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11
    Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon aboard the Apollo 11. Space Race with a televised landing. they spent about two hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected lunar material to bring back to Earth. Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV and witnessed by 723 million people. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled the nation's goal proposed by President John F. Kennedy.
  • Apollo-Soyuz Mission

    Apollo-Soyuz Mission
    Apollo–Soyuz was the first international space mission, carried out jointly by the United States and the Soviet Union. With two separate flights, the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft dock in space, and the two commanders Tom Stafford and Alexei Leonov exchange the first international handshake. This act can be seen to symbolically end the Space Race. New technologies were developed and shared during this time to enhance future space exploration.
  • Conclusion

    The Space Race was important because it allowed scientists to develop new technology designed to carry humans into space. The race between the United States and the Soviet Union shows how technologically advanced the U.S had become during that time. After the Apollo–Soyuz mission, the United States and Russia have worked together in space with the Shuttle-Mir Program, and with the International Space Station. This helped soften tensions that were present from the Cold War.