Race For The Moon

1957

Oct. 4: Soviet Union stuns world by putting world's first artificial satellite in orbit. Sputnik (SPOOT-nik; "co-traveler," in Russian) beeps for 21 days before its batteries wear out. It falls to Earth in January.

Nov. 3: Soviets launch Sputnik 2, with dog Laika ("barker") aboard.

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Dec. 6: The United States rocket carrying Vanguard, first US satellite attempt, rises two feet off the launch pad before collapsing in flames.

1958

Jan. 31: Explorer I, America's third try, orbits successfully, staying aloft 12 years. In October, NASA is founded.

1959

Feb. 28: US launches its first spy satellite, Discoverer 1, part of top-secret Corona program. Discoverer 13 (Aug. 10, 1960) is first unqualified success.

Sep. 12: USSR's Luna 2 is first to crash-land on moon. In October, Luna 3 takes first photos of moon's far side.

1960

April 1: TIROS 1, first of a series of successful US meteorological satellites, is launched.

Aug. 12: US launches ECHO 1, a radio-reflective balloon 100 feet in diameter. It is first passive communications satellite.

1961

April 12: Yuri Gagarin is first human in space, orbiting Earth once on a two-hour flight. America's Alan Shepard follows with a 15-minute suborbital flight May 5.

May 25: President Kennedy announces the national goal of landing a man on the moon by decade's end.

1962

Feb. 20: John Glenn is first American to orbit Earth in a five-hour, three-orbit flight. Six months earlier, a Soviet cosmonaut had spent 25 hours in space, 17 orbits.

July 10: Telstar 1, first commercial communications satellite, transmits TV images between US and Europe.

Aug. 26: Mariner 2, US probe to Venus, passes within 22,000 miles of the planet on Dec. 14.

1964

Oct. 12: Voskhod I (USSR), first three-man crew to orbit Earth.

1965

March 18: First walk in space (20 minutes) on Voskhod 2.

June 1: US astronaut spends 22 minutes outside Gemini IV.

December: Gemini V rendezvous with Gemini VI on docking test.

1966

More US space walks and docking practice; tests of Apollo lunar-landing craft begin. Soviet manned program is silent.

1967

Jan. 27: Three-man US Apollo crew dies in launch-pad fire during countdown test.

1968

March 2: Practice moon shot by Soviets; unmanned.

December: Man-around-moon flight by Soviets is canceled.

1969

May 18: Apollo 10 crew tests Lunar Module in around-the-moon flight.

July 16: Apollo 11 launched. Four days later, Neil Armstrong is first man to set foot on the moon.

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