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Space Race: Timeline

An introduction to the Space Race of the 1960s.

Space Program, 1960-1969

The race for Space really began when the USSR launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, into a low elliptical orbit around the Earth.  A major technological achievement, it spurred a decade-long competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to be the first to explore outer space.  This timeline presents a brief look at achivements by both countries during this period. 

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Soviet Program

February 12, 1961
Venera 1 | First Venus Flyby

April 12, 1961
Vostok 1 | Yuri Gagarin, First Man in Space

August 6, 1961
Vostok 2 | Gherman S. Titov: First Day-Long Spaceflight

November 1, 1962
Mars 1 | First Mars Flyby

June 16, 1963
Vostok 6 | Valentina Tereshkova, First Woman in Space

March 18, 1965
Voskhod 2 | Alexei Leonov, First Spacewalk

July 18, 1965
Zond 3 | Lunar Flyby

January 31, 1966
Luna 9 | First Spacecraft to Land on the Moon and Transmit Photographic Data

March 1, 1966
Venera 3 | First Spacecraft to Impact on Another Planet

March 1966
Luna 10 | First Spacecraft to Orbit the Moon

August 24, 1966
Luna 11 | Lunar Orbiter

December 21, 1966
Luna 13 | Lunar Lander

April 23, 1967
Soyuz 1 | Vladimir Komarov, First Spaceflight Fatality

October 18, 1967
Venera 4 | Venus Probe

September 15, 1968
Zond 5 | First Spacecraft to Orbit the Moon and Return

January 16, 1969
Soyuz 4 & 5 | First Soviet Spaceship Docking, Transferring Crew Between Vehicles

United States Program

May 5, 1961
Freedom 7 | Alan B. Shepard, Jr., First American in Space
Project Mercury

February 20, 1962
Friendship 7 | John H. Glenn, Jr., First American in Orbit
Project Mercury

April 23, 1962
Ranger 4 | Lunar Impact

August 27, 1962
Mariner 2 | Venus Flyby

September 12, 1962
President John F. Kennedy | Speech at Rice University on the U.S. Space Effort

March 23, 1965
Gemini III | First Manned Flight of Project Gemini
Project Gemini

March 24, 1965
Ranger 9 | First Live Broadcast of Images of the Moon

June 3, 1965
Gemini IV | First American Spacewalk
Project Gemini

July 15, 1965
Mariner 4 | First View of Mars

December 15, 1965
Gemini VI & VII | First Space Rendezvous
Project Gemini

May 30, 1966
Surveyor 1 | First American Spacecraft to Land on the Moon

January 27, 1967
Apollo I | First American Space Tragedy
Project Apollo

October 11, 1968
Apollo VII | First Manned Apollo Mission
Project Apollo

December 21, 1968
Apollo VIII | First Manned Moon Orbit
Project Apollo

May 18, 1969
Apollo X | Crewed Lunar Orbiter
Project Apollo

July 20, 1969
Apollo XI | First Manned Moon Landing
Project Apollo | 45th Anniversary

July 31, 1969
Mariner 6 | High-Resolution Images of the Martian Surface

November 14, 1969
Apollo XII | Second American Moon Landing
Project Apollo