the soviets have sent the first man (Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin) into space and the Americans need a man in space
First American in Space
Mercury Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (right, headed to launch) blasted off in his Freedom 7 capsule atop a Mercury-Redstone rocket (left). His 15-minute sub-orbital flight made him the first American in space.
President Kennedy's Historic Speech
after Shepard's flight, President John F. Kennedy made his historic speech to Congress "a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth" before the end of the decade.
The first day-long Soviet space flight
Vostok 2 is launched by the U.S.S.R., carrying Cosmonaut Gherman Titov
First American in Orbit
John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth - 3 times. It was a five hour flight
Making three orbits
Mercury Aurora 7 is launched with M. Scott Carpenter.
The first live transatlantic telecast
U.S. satellite Telstar 1 - the first telecommunications satellite - beams the first live transatlantic telecast.
The first successful planetary spacecraft
U.S. Mariner 2 was the first most successful planetary spacecraft, flies past Venus, and enters a solar orbit.