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Milestones of the space race era

Russia Launches Sputnik

On July 29, 1957, in recognition of the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year, the White House announced that the U.S. intended to launch satellites by the spring of 1958. This became known as Project Vanguard. On July 31, the Soviets announced that they intended to launch a satellite by the fall of 1957.

Sputnik is regarded as the beginning of the Space Race.

The Explorer 1

Explorer 1 (international designation 1958 Alpha 1) was the first Earth satellite of the United States, launched on February 1, 1958 at 03:48 UTC from LC-26 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of the United States program for the International Geophysical Year and in response to the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1. It was the first spacecraft to recognize the Van Allen radiation belt, although Sputnik 2 detected it earlier.

Lunokhod 1

Lunokhod 1 (Луноход, moon walker in Russian) was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod program. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17. Lunokhod was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another celestial body.

Luna 17 was launched on November 10, 1970 at 14:44:01 UTC. After reaching earth parking orbit, the final stage of Luna 17's launching rocket fired to place it into a trajectory towards the Moon (1970-11-10 at 14:54 UTC). After two course correction maneuvers (on November 12 and 14), it entered lunar orbit on November 15, 1970 at 22:00 UTC.

End of the Space Race

The 17 July 1975 rendezvous of the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft traditionally marks the end of the Space Race

While the Sputnik 1 launch can clearly be called the start of the Space Race, its end is more debatable. Most hotly contested during the 1960s, the Space Race continued apace through the U.S. Apollo moon landing of 1969. Although they followed Apollo 11 with five more manned lunar landings, American space scientists turned to new arenas. Skylab was to gather data, and the Space Shuttle was intended to return spaceships intact from space journeys.

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