The US-Russia Space Race: An exercise in Cold War brinkmanship
October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union launches the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1, stunning the United States November 3, 1957: The Soviet Union puts the first animal in space, a dog called Laika who orbits the Earth but dies in the process.
January 1, 1958: America successfully launches its first Earth satellite.
October 1, 1958: America sets up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA.
September 12, 1959: The Soviet Union launches the first spacecraft, Luna 2, to reach the surface of the Moon.
August 19, 1960: The Soviet Union launches a spacecraft carrying two dogs, Belka and Strelka. The two dogs survive the mission and return to Earth, paving the way for the first manned space flight.
April 12, 1961: Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to journey into outer space orbiting the Earth once in a flight that lasted 108 minutes.
May 5, 1961: America’s Alan Shepard completes a suborbital journey into space.
February 20, 1962: America’s John Glenn orbits the Earth three times.
June 16, 1963: Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to travel into space.
January 27, 1967: America’s Apollo 1 Moon mission ends in tragedy as it catches fire during a launch test killing three crew members.
July 16, 1969: America’s historic Apollo 11 mission lands on the Moon.
July 20, 1969: America’s Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to walk on the Moon.
November 17, 1970: The Soviet Union lands a remote-controlled robot on the Moon in another world first. America does the same the following year.
April 19,1971: The Soviet Union launches the first space station, Salyut 1.
April 12, 1981: America launches its first Space Shuttle in orbit.
1986: The Soviet Union launches what will become the first permanently-manned space station. Mir. It is permanently manned from 1989-1999 but decommissioned in 2001 by Russia which is struggling to fund what is left of the Soviet space programme.