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History of Flight: The Space Race

At the conclusion of World War II, the allied forces led by the United States and the Soviet Union celebrated the victory over the armies led by Germany and Japan. However, the task of restoring order in the world after fell primarily to these two countries. When it came to the ideas of each country, that's where the differences occurred. The differing ideologies of communist Russia and free America, presented many obstacles to restoring global peace.

Because of the strong differences between the countries, tensions between the countries started to reach alarming status. These two super powers started to build strong armies and began stockpiling nuclear weapons that could be used in the event of a real war between the two nations. However, what happened was that a cold war started between the two countries. For the next several decades these two countries competed in everything from athletics to politics to space.

In the 1950's the United States and the Soviet Union began to explore the ideas of being the first country into space. Politically, this was seen as a big bonus on the winning side. This set in motion a series of events over the next several decades that became known as the space race. While each country can claim victories, both countries were ultimately the winners, and the space race concluded with joint efforts of a space station that was inhabited by both countries.

To learn more about the space race and the space program history of the United States and the Soviet Union, we have put together the following links and information:

Cold War

  • Cold War Information Collection of articles, videos and other information about the tension between the Soviet Union and USA, from the History Channel.
  • Timeline Chronological listing of key events in history of the Cold War, including the space race, from the end of World War II until the early 1990's.
  • BBC Cold War Information from the BBC on the events of the late 20th Century that were part of the super power conflict.
  • Cold War Documents Useful collection of documents surrounding the events of the Cold War.
  • Space Race Useful summary of the events in space as it relates to the Cold War.
  • Cold War and Space Race Informative site providing information on the space programs during the middle to late 20th Century.

Race to Space

  • Space Race Exhibition Information on the Smithsonian exhibit on the space race with pictures and useful articles.
  • The Space Race Useful information on the Soviet and American efforts in trying to go into space.
  • The Race for Space Helpful information on the American initiatives in going into outer space.
  • Space Race Overview of the space race from the time of post-World War II to the end of the competitiveness between the countries.

Soviet Space Program

United States Space Program

  • Space Programs Information on the various programs starting with the Gemini project, that the U.S. has initiated.
  • U.S. Space Program Informative look from the Kennedy Library at the beginnings of the space program in 1961.
  • U.S. Space Timeline Listing of important dates in the history of the United States space program.
  • Space Program Brief overview of the efforts of the United States in beating the Russians to the Moon.
  • History of American Space Program (PDF) Thorough article discussing the various points of the U.S. space initiative.
  • NASA History Fact sheet providing information on the birth and growth of the space arm of the government.

Moon Landings

  • The Moon Landings Nice collection of information on the first and subsequent landings on the Moon.
  • Moon Landing Kid friendly web page providing information on the U.S. Apollo 11 mission which landed on the Moon.
  • The Apollo Missions Informative collection of information and images from the various missions to the Moon.
  • Lunar Exploration Timeline Useful information on the events that contributed in exploring the Moon.
  • Lunar Mission Timelines Helpful page providing information on various missions that went to the Moon.

Space Station

  • International Space Station NASA page on the cooperative efforts of the International Space Station.
  • History of Space Stations Useful page on the various efforts to place a space station into orbit.
  • Salyut 1 Information on the first Russian space station that was put into orbit in 1971.
  • Skylab Project Informative page providing an overview of the U.S. project on putting a space station in orbit.
  • Shuttle Mir History Page discussing the first joint U.S. and Russian ground breaking attempts at putting together an orbiting, functional space station.

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