The Space Race refers to the competition between United States of America and Russian Federation or as it was known back then, U.S.S.R. ( Union of Socialist Soviet Republics ) Starting from the 1950s. On Earth, the two countries, both superpowers were locked in a Cold War. The Cold War was a battle of ideologies, the U.S.A. represented democracy and freedom whereas the Russias were living under a Communist dictatorship. They both had nuclear weapons and both feared the other would launch ballistic missiles at one another from space so began their quest to make space theirs.
On the 4th October 1957, the first point in the Space Race went to the Soviets with the launch of satellite Sputnik 1, into orbit. It was not until the following year that the Americans responded by placing Explorer 1 into orbit. It was in that same year that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A.), the primary space agency of the United States was launched and tasked with space exploration. Russia 1U.S.A. 0.
The Russians launched a three year dog into space called Laika. Its purpose was to see what the effect would be on life that is sent into space. Unfortunately for the dog, the animal was burnt up on re-entry. Some might say that because the dog died, the point shouldn`t be awarded. Russia 2U.S.A. 0
The first man in space was Yuri Gagarin who was launched into space on 12th April 1961. Yuri was in space for only a small amount of time but the fact that he had been into space was a coup for the Russians. The Americans would respond by putting Alan Shepard into space but by that time, Russia had already won the race. Yuri Gagarin was congratulated by everyone and visited nations to celebrate his achievement such as United Kingdom but he didn`t go to the U.S.A. Russia 3U.S.A. 0
The first successful attempt at getting a probe to Venus was carried out by the Americans on 14th December 1962, it was only a flyby but it was enough to tell us that the temperature of the planet was hot and inhospitable. The Russians succeeded in reaching Venus on the 13th attempt ( so much for 14 being the unlucky number ). It was to tell people that the planet was extremely hot and had an extremely dense atmosphere. The first successful colour image of the images surface was received by Venera 13 in March 1982. Russia 4U.S.A. 0
On the 16th June 1963, the first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian parachutist because at that time, there were no Russian female pilots. The motivation to put Valentina in space was more out of seeing the effect of what would happen to a woman who went into space. Valentina went up and came back down, the effect on her was no different to men who had gone into space. Valentina went onto become a wife and mother and bore a normal healthy child. After her visit into space, it would take another eighteen years before another woman went into space. The first American woman in space was Sally Ride in June 1983. Russia 5U.S.A. 0
Russia`s earlier attempts at getting to Mars ended in failure, the Russians didn`t reach Mars until the tenth attempt with a mission called Mars 2. It launched on May 19th 1971 and reached it on 27th November 1971. The Americans suceeded on reaching the red planet on the second attempt with Mariner 4 with some images returned by the probe. An earlier probe by Russia failed in reaching the planet but it did send some information back. Russia 5U.S.A. 1
The first man on the Moon was Neil Armstrong who landed on the Moon on the 21st July 1969. Neil was onboard the Apollo 11 space craft along with Edwin `Buzz` Aldrin and Michael Collins. Of the three, Michael Collins didn`t actually touch the surface, instead, he stayed aboard the orbiter to make sure that when the lander blasted off, they could connect and come back safely. This was the first time the Americans had beaten the Russians to something. Americans sent future missions to the Moon but after after Apollo 17 landed and returned, the programme was cancelled, it had been a political rather than scientific exploration of the nearest neighbour. Russia 5U.S.A. 2
The Russians launched their first space station in July 1971 having been beaten by the Americans to land on the Moon, this would put them back into the race. The Salyut 1 stayed in orbit for 175 days after which it returned to Earth and burned up over the Pacific Ocean. The Russians would attempt to launch more space stations into orbit, two of these failed, one failing to reach orbit, the other blowing up before it had taken off. The longest a Russian spacestation stayed in space was the Mir (Freedom) spacestation that was launched on 20th February 1986 and stayed in orbit for 5,519 and occupied for 4,592 days. The American Skylab station was launched in 1973, called Skylab, it was up in orbit for six years before returning to Earth. During the time of Mir in orbit, the Space Shuttle docked with the station in an attempt of friendship. The United States along with other countries including Russia have worked together to put the international space station into orbit which has been occupied since November 2000. Russia 6U.S.A. 2
Voyager 1 space probe became the first space craft to leave the heliosphere, the area of space where the Sun`s influence ends and Interstellar radiation takes over. It wasn`t the objective of the mission but it became it when the satellite lasted longer than it did. Russia 6U.S.A. 3
Neither America or Russia has sent a human to the Martian surface, that objective has yet to be won. However other countries are now lining up to take part in the space race such as India, China and Iran. China has already put an astronaut of their own into space and returned them. Iran sent a monkey into space and returned it safely unlike poor Laika. India is making great strides to take part in the competition.