Space Race  

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The Space Race was a 20th-century (1955–1972) competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned probes of the Moon, Venus and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. It began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the United States announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite "in the near future". The Soviets won the first "lap" with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik 1. The Race reached its zenith with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon on Apollo 11, and concluded in a period of détente (partial easing of strained relations) with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which resulted in the July 1975 meeting in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew.

The Space Race had its origins in the missile-based arms race that occurred following World War II, when both the Soviet Union and the United States captured advanced German rocket technology and personnel.

The Space Race sparked increases in spending on education and pure research, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies. An unforeseen effect was that the Space Race contributed to the birth of the environmental movement by providing sharp color images of the global Earth taken by astronauts in translunar space.

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