The Space Race was a battle fought during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union over spaceflight capabilities. The Space Race took place in 1957 through 1975. There were many major missions that took place during the Space Race like the the launch of Sputnik 1, the launch of Sputnik 2, the launch of Explorer 1, the launch of Vostok 1, the launch of Mercury-Redstone 3, and the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. On October 4, 1957, Sputnik 1, an artificial satellite, was launched by the Soviet Union shocking the world. The Soviet Union was the first country to launch a satellite into space and this triggered other countries, especially the United States, to participate in many years of space exploration.
This event known as the Space Race lasted almost two decades and was a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. It gave the United States and Soviet Union incentives to explore space and improve space technology.Only a month later on October 3, the USSR launched a second spacecraft into space. This spacecraft had a female dog inside named Laika. Sputnik 2 was the first spacecraft to bring a living animal into space. This really prompted the United States to develop space equipment and spacecrafts at a rapid pace to compete with the Soviet Union. Soon after the launch of Sputnik 2, The United States launched their first satellite into space called Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. This was a very important moment for the United States, and this proved that the United States was just as capable as the USSR in space exploration and technology.
The satellite was 30 pounds and carried scientific instruments like temperature detectors and a microphone that could detect any space material that would hit the satellite. The United States discovered the Van Allen belts with Explorer 1 and quickly launched a whole series of Explorers. Explorer 2 and Explorer 5 both failed in the rocket stage of flight and did not reach orbit. However, Explorer 3 and Explorer 4 both reached orbit transmitting scientific data back to Earth. None of these satellites are in orbit today, but the satellites left a crucial piece of information in our history books.
On April 12, 1961, Vostok 1 was launched into space by the Soviet Union. The rocket carried the first human into space thus beating the United States again. The man aboard the shuttle was Gagarin. Vostok 1 launched at 6:07 UTC with Gagarin inside. After ten minutes, the flight had reached orbit. The spacecraft was supplied with up to ten days of supplies in case Vostok 1 did not come out of orbit.
The rocket would naturally reach the atmosphere again after ten days if the rockets that brought it back to Earth did not deploy. Vostok 1 orbited Earth once at a speed of about 17000 mph and at a height of 203 miles above the sea and returned to the atmosphere 89 minutes later. At about 4.4 miles above the ground, Gagarin was ejected from Vostok 1 and parachuted near a town called Engels.
Gagarin was a hero for the Soviet Union and was the first man to see planet Earth from space.