AP European History Culture Project

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Space Discoveries

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AP European History Culture Project


Soviet Valentia Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.


Soviet Yuri Gagarin orbits the Earth once and becomes the first man in space.




NASA is founded in the United States in response to Sputnik I.


The Space Race:A competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States

The launch of artificial satellites, unmanned probes, and human spaceflight between 1957 and 1969 revealed the perpetuation of the Cold War and promoted advances in technology and education in America and the U.S.S.R alike.



A Timeline of the Space Race's Most Popular Products and Practices

A month later, the U.S.S.R. launches Sputnik II which carries a small dog named Laika into orbit.

The Sputnik I launch by the U.S.S.R. marks the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.

The Benefit of Studying the Space Race in the Twenty-First CenturyTo inquire into the Space Race is to unearth the incredible capabilities of humankind. There is nothing more inspiring and reassuring than discovering that, half a century ago, the products and practices of two rivals culminated in a moon landing.

Devil's Advocate"An unintended consequence of the Space Race is that it facilitated the environmental movement, as this was the first time in history that humans could see their homeworld as it really appears . . . the first color pictures from space showed a fragile blue planet bordered by the blackness of space."-Professor Robert Poole

John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th President of the United States.

Ironically, the Sputnik event initially receives a low-key response from the U.S.S.R. On launch day, the Communist Party newspaper prints but a few paragraphs about Sputnik. It is not until the world's startled response that the Soviets begin celebrating their great accomplishment.

A year later, President Kennedy would announce the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.

Both the NDEA and NASA were science initiatives designed to increase the technological sophistication and power of the U.S., and with it, American morale.

The Space Race is made public...

The NDEA is signed into law later this year. The act provides aid to education in the United States at all levels; more specifically, aid to advance education in science, mathematics, and modern foreign languages.

Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin become the first men to walk on the Moon while crewmate Michael Collins orbits around the Moon alone.

The U.S.S.R.'s Luna 10 becomes the first satellite to orbit the Moon.

Museums, like The Museum of Flight in Washington, preserve the products of the Space Race. Duplicates of Sputnik I and other instrumental spacecraft are exhibited all year round.


Soviet Alexei Leonov spends 12 minutes outside of his Voskhod spacecraft performing the first spacewalk. American Ed White follows three months later.

Venus 3 is launched, becoming the first man-made object to impact Venus on March 1, 1966.

A BBC docudrama series called "Space Race" chronicles the major events and characters in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. space race up 1969: the year of the moon landing. In chronicling the race, the film both makes public and preserves the historic practices and products of the rivalry.

President Kennedy gives a speech at Rice University promoting the Space Race; he reaffirms the importance of the Moon program.


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