The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological superiority
1963: FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE Valentina Tereshkova
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, aboard Vostok 6. The next woman wouldn't reach orbit until 1982.
both the United States and the Soviet Union spied on each other using satellite photography that was folded into their space agendas
The players were the U. S. Air Force, Army, and Navy, and the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). The winner was NACA, which when it became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, assumed control of the nation's space exploration activities. Until that point, however, the U. S. Air Force was the leader in space activities, and the Air Force, including the Wright Air Development Center, made considerable contributions to the field of space exploration, specifically in the areas of the physiological affects of space travel on humans, and in the design of space capsules.
It was also the high point of their space programme, which began spectacularly in the late 1950s with the launch of the first Sputnik satellites, and continued after Gagarin’s flight with the first spacewalk, the first missions to the moon, the first space station, the first Venus landing and numerous space endurance records
Before we'd got over that, the Soviets in rapid succession: sent the first probe to the moon and got first-ever photographs of the far side, put the first man in space, and then the first woman, and took the first space walk. It was 1961 before we heard John F. Kennedy even talk about putting a man on the moon.
President Kennedy understood the need to restore America's confidence and intended not merely to match the Soviets, but surpass them. On May 25, 1961, he stood before Congress to deliver a special message on "urgent national needs." He asked for an additional $7 billion to $9 billion over the next five years for the space program, proclaiming that "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."
'The American moon project is a colossal thing, costing $10m a day. I believe they will succeed in getting a man on the moon – and back again, which is equally important – not before 1970, but it will not be much after that.'
On January 31, 1958, the tide changed, when the United States successfully launched Explorer I. This satellite carried a small scientific payload that eventually discovered the magnetic radiation belts around the Earth, named after principal investigator James Van Allen. The Explorer program continued as a successful ongoing series of lightweight, scientifically useful spacecraft
Sputnik led Congress to pass a series of massive federal aid-to-education measures. Science became a priority in schools and universities. Soviet space successes led President John F. Kennedy to tell a joint session of Congress in May 1961 that the United States would land a man on the moon and bring him home by the end of the 1960s.
Sputnik's launch meant that the Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the United States would take place, not only on earth, but also in outer space. Americans, who thought of themselves as the world's technology pacesetters, felt vulnerable; a sensation that was reinforced in 1959, when the Soviet Union fired the first rockets to circle the moon and brought back pictures of its dark side. In April 1961, the Soviets launched the first manned spaceship into orbit, piloted by 27-year-old Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. In 1966, the Soviets were the first to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon.