Information about the United States space flight programs, including NASA missions and the astronauts who participate in the efforts to explore Earths galaxy.
Oct. 18, 1989: Shuttle Atlantis launches with Jupiter-bound Galileo space probe on board.
Jan. 14, 2004: President George W. Bush advocates space exploration missions to the moon and Mars for NASA in his Vision for Space Exploration speech.
John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth, completing three orbits.
Astronaut Alan Shepard becomes the first American man in space, in a suborbital Project Mercury flight aboard Freedom 7. Later that month, US President John F. Kennedy challenges his nation to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.
The Space Race was a 20th Century struggle between two nation-states, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US). The pursuit for both was the domination of space flight technologies. The competition began on 2 August 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement of their similar intent to launch artificial satellites.
In the 1950s an ongoing discussion began at NASA between astronauts and cosmonauts. The deputy administrator wanted to name US travellers in space as cosmonauts, the term applied to Russian spacemen. He felt that “cosmos” was more applicable to space travel than just the term used to stars (or “Astro”). However, while he made a clear point, he was outvoted by his peers.
Since the end of World War II in 1945 and until its dissolution in 1991, the Soviet Union was engaged in a massive military, economic and political competition with the United States — a historical process known as the Cold War. One of the crucial battles in this conflict was the Space Race, which started in 1957 with the launch in the USSR of the Earth’s first artificial satellite. This timeline chronicles major events, which defined the Space Race.