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Space Race
International Geophysical Year
• In 1952, the International Council of
Scientific Unions decided to establish
July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958,
as the International Geophysical Year
(IGY) because the scientists knew that
the cycles of solar activity would be at
a high point then.
International Geophysical Year
• In July 1955, the White House
announced plans to launch an Earthorbiting satellite for the IGY.
• USA had the U-2 Spy Plane and was
not initially worried about a Soviet
advance into space.
• The Sputnik launch changed
American Plans.
• October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union
successfully launched Sputnik I.
• The world's first artificial satellite was
about the size of a beach ball.
• It took 98 minutes to orbit the earth.
• Its launch marked the start of the
space race.
• Sputnik surprised the world and
caught the Americans off guard.
• With the launch, Americans feared
Soviet missile capabilities.
• One month later, Sputnik II was
launched, carrying a dog named
• Laika was killed in the process.
America Reacts
• January 31, 1958, US launches
Explorer I—discovers the Van Allen
radiation belt.
• March 17, 1958, US launches
Vanguard I—establishes that the
earth is pear shaped.
• July 29, 1958—NASA (the National
Aeronautics and Space
Administration) was established.
Men (and Women) in Space
• Yuri Gagarin—April 12, 1961
– First Person in Space and Orbit
• Alan Shepard—May 5, 1961
– First American in Space
• John Glenn—Feb. 20, 1962
– First American to orbit the earth
• Valentina Tereshkova—June 16, 1963
– First Woman in Space
American Space Program
• Project Mercury (1959-1963)
– Mission: One-man crew
• Project Gemini (1962-1966)
– Mission: Two-man crew, extravehicular activity (space walks)
• Project Apollo (1961-1972)
– Mission: Three-man crew to the
The Moon
• Mercury and Gemini programs readied
astronauts and technologies, and built
up the American space program.
• Apollo 8—first lunar orbit Dec. 21, 1968
• Apollo 11—first landing on July 20, 1969
• Apollo 17—last lunar landing Dec. 1972
End of the Race
• Cold War Thaws—Détente 1970s
• Joint Mission: Apollo-Soyuz Test
Project, July 1975
• 3 American Astronauts
• 2 Soviet Cosmonauts
End of the Race
• Space Stations
– International Cooperation
• Space Shuttles
– 1981-2011
• Satellites
– Commercial, Military, Private, etc.
– Communications, Navigation,
Information, Surveillance, etc.
Space Race: 1957-1975
Soviet Union•
First Satellite in orbit
First Dog in space
First man is space
First Woman in Space
3 Cosmonauts Killed in
United States• Second Man in space
• First chimpanzee in
• First Man on moon
• $24 Billion in 1970s