In 1957, a contest was afoot between the Soviet Union and the United States, the Space Race. The Soviet Union had launched the first spacecraft into orbit, Sputnik 1, in 1957; Americans thought they were winning. In response to Soviet success, the United States began to focus on development of their own technology. In response to Sputnik, the United States formed NASA, The Mercury program, and the Apollo program. This event affected American history by putting the first man on the moon!