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Chasing The Moon Logo

THE SPACE RACE

that began in the mid-1950s refers to the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union for dominance in spaceflight capability and space exploration. As the race heated up, both countries set their sights on reaching the moon.

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Sputnik image

Sputnik, Image Credit: NASA

On November 3, Sputnik 2 was launched carrying a dog, Laika, the first living animal to go into space. Laika did not survive the voyage.

laika: first living animal to go into space

1957

The “Space Race” begins after The Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into space on October 4.

laika stamp image

1957

The “Space Race” begins after The Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into space on October 4.

Sputnik image

Sputnik, Image Credit: NASA

On November 3, Sputnik 2 was launched carrying a dog, Laika, the first living animal to go into space. Laika did not survive the voyage.

laika: first living animal to go into space

Laika in a flight harness

laika stamp image

Romanian stamp, 1959 "Laika, the first traveler in the cosmos"

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (center) appoints T. Keith Glennan (right) NASA's first administrator and Hugh L. Dryden its first deputy administrator. Image Credit: NASA

T. Keith Glennan shows LBJ aluminized mylar film used to make Echo I. Image Credit: NASA

1958

On October 7, NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan publicly announces NASA's manned spaceflight program along with the formation of the Space Task Group, a panel of scientist and engineers from space-policy organizations absorbed by NASA. The announcement came just six days after NASA was founded.

1958

On October 7, NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan publicly announces NASA's manned spaceflight program along with the formation of the Space Task Group, a panel of scientist and engineers from space-policy organizations absorbed by NASA. The announcement came just six days after NASA was founded.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (center) appoints T. Keith Glennan (right) NASA's first administrator and Hugh L. Dryden its first deputy administrator. Image Credit: NASA

T. Keith Glennan shows LBJ aluminized mylar film used to make Echo I. Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

Squirrel monkey, Baker, in bio-pack couch being readied for Jupiter (AM-18 flight) Photo Credit: NASA

1959

On May 28, The United States launches the first primates into space, Able and Baker, on a suborbital flight. The two animals were carried to a 300-mile altitude, and both were recovered unharmed. On Aug. 7, NASA's Explorer 6 launches and provides the first photographs of the Earth from space.

1959

On May 28, The United States launches the first primates into space, Able and Baker, on a suborbital flight. The two animals were carried to a 300-mile altitude, and both were recovered unharmed. On Aug. 7, NASA's Explorer 6 launches and provides the first photographs of the Earth from space.

Image Credit: NASA

Squirrel monkey, Baker, in bio-pack couch being readied for Jupiter (AM-18 flight) Photo Credit: NASA

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1960

On August 19, the Soviet craft Sputnik 5 was launched, carrying the dogs Strelka and Belka. They became the first living beings to survive a trip into orbital space.

Belka

Strelka

1961

Alan Shepard climbs into his Mercury capsule. Image Credit: NASA

On April12, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space. It was following this event, on May 25, when President Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

1961

On April12, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space. It was following this event, on May 25, when President Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Alan Shepard climbs into his Mercury capsule. Image Credit: NASA

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John Glenn with Friendship 7 spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Tereshkova in March 2017

Postage stamp of Kyrgyzstan, 2013

1962

Astronaut John Glenn became the first American in orbit on February 20. Four months later, on June 16, Valentina Nikolayeva Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

1962

Astronaut John Glenn became the first American in orbit on February 20. Four months later, on June 16, Valentina Nikolayeva Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

John Glenn with Friendship 7 spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Tereshkova in March 2017

Postage stamp of Kyrgyzstan, 2013

1965

While tethered to his spacecraft, cosmonaut Alexi Leonov became the first man to walk in space on March 18. Three months later, on June 3, astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space. For 23 minutes, White floated and maneuvered himself around the Gemini spacecraft while logging 6,500 miles during his orbital stroll.

Ed White made the United States' first spacewalk during the Gemini 4 mission. Image Credit: NASA

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1966

On February 3, the Russian spacecraft Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to land on the moon, followed by the U.S., on June 2, when the Surveyor 1 became the first American spacecraft to land on the moon. Surveyor 1 collected over 11,000 images, most during the first lunar day between landing and July 7. The spacecraft continued to operate until January 7, 1967. The Surveyor images demonstrated that the lunar surface was strong enough to support a landed vehicle or a human.

Surveyor 1 gathered data in preparation for NASA's Apollo missions. Image Credit: NASA

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1967

Both the United States and the Soviet Union endured tragedies in their quest to reach the moon. During a preflight test at Cape Kennedy on January 27, U.S. astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the command module. Their mission, later designated as Apollo 1, was to be the first crewed flight of Apollo, and was scheduled to launch Feb. 21. On April 24, cosmonaut Vladimir M. Komarov was killed in a crash when the parachute on his Soyuz 1 spacecraft failed to deploy.

In June 1966, the Apollo 1 crew practices water egress procedures with a full-scale boilerplate model of the spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Astronauts, from the left, Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee in January 1967. Image Credit: NASA

Apollo 7 lifts off. Image Credit: NASA

Left: Still photograph from the first live TV broadcast from an American spacecraft. Right: Mission Control during the TV broadcast. Image Credit: NASA

1968

The Soviet spacecraft Zond 5 was launched on September 15 and later became the first spacecraft to orbit the moon and return to Earth. The United States launched Apollo 7 on Oct. 11 as the first crewed Apollo space mission and became the first to send a live television broadcast from space. Although a source of debate, the decision to carry a 4.5-pound video camera was made just before the mission and the crew held the first of seven TV broadcasts on Flight Day 4. On December 21, the country followed that mission with Apollo 8, and her crew members became the first men to orbit the moon.

1968

The Soviet spacecraft Zond 5 was launched on September 15 and later became the first spacecraft to orbit the moon and return to Earth. The United States launched Apollo 7 on Oct. 11 as the first crewed Apollo space mission and became the first to send a live television broadcast from space. Although a source of debate, the decision to carry a 4.5-pound video camera was made just before the mission and the crew held the first of seven TV broadcasts on Flight Day 4. On December 21, the country followed that mission with Apollo 8, and her crew members became the first men to orbit the moon.

Left: Still photograph from the first live TV broadcast from an American spacecraft. Right: Mission Control during the TV broadcast. Image Credit: NASA

Apollo 7 lifts off. Image Credit: NASA

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Astronauts (left to right) Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins pose for reporters on Jan. 10, 1969. Image Credit: NASA

1969 crew

Aldrin salutes U.S. Flag. Image Credit: NASA

Aldrin salutes US Flag

1969

Six years after U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination, Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, fulfilling Kennedy’s promise to put an American there by the end of the decade and return him safely to Earth.

1969

Six years after U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination, Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, fulfilling Kennedy’s promise to put an American there by the end of the decade and return him safely to Earth.

Astronauts (left to right) Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins pose for reporters on Jan. 10, 1969. Image Credit: NASA

Aldrin salutes U.S. Flag. Image Credit: NASA

THE SPACE RACE IN HAMPTON ROADS

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THE SPACE RACE IN HAMPTON ROADS

In Hampton, NASA Langley's system analysis and concepts, found a way to take complex engineering ideas to help people visualize what new ideas might look like. They enlisted animators and visual artists to make it happen and here you can see the merger between art and engineering.

Johnson, Image Credit: NASA

Katherine Johnson began work at Langley in 1953 and eventually worked on the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module.

Cosmic Creations: NASA and AMA Studios

In Hampton, NASA Langley's system analysis and concepts, found a way to take complex engineering ideas to help people visualize what new ideas might look like. They enlisted animators and visual artists to make it happen and here you can see the merger between art and engineering.

Johnson, Image Credit: NASA

Katherine Johnson began work at Langley in 1953 and eventually worked on the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module.

THE FUTURE

  1. Coming Up on WHRV 89.5 FM

  2. July 3, 12 noon: HearSay with Cathy Lewis: Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
  3. July 3, 1pm: Washington Goes to the Moon, Part 1
  4. July 10, 1pm: Washington Goes to the Moon, Part 2
  5. July 17, 1pm: Race and the Space Race
  6. July 24, 1pm: How We Saw It: One Giant Leap for Man
  7. July 31, 1pm: Rocket Girls

An Astronaut's Journey to Space Story Time

 Journey to the stars

July 13, 2-3 pm at Slover Library

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a reading of My Journey to the Stars, written by Astronaut Scott Kelley, and take a selfie with a life size model of Buzz Aldrin. Special Guest: Walt Englelund, NASA Langley Research Center Director for Space Technology and Exploration Stay after the reading for a fun activity. Suggested ages 5-8. Supported by the American Experience PBS series, "Chasing the Moon."