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Space Race Time Line

  • By Rima Chaddha
  • Posted 11.06.07
  • NOVA

At the end of World War II, the U.S. and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers, each striving for primacy on a global scale. As rocket technology improved, the dueling forces set their sights on reaching and controlling space. Recently released documents reveal secret military plans, cover-ups, and covert spy missions that were part of this effort. In this time line, explore the Cold War's secret space race.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Examine turning points in the history of the heated competition between the U.S. and USSR to dominate space.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program Astrospies.

Credits

Images

(Bulganin/Eisenhower/Faure/Eden)
© National Archives 59-G-VS-732-55
(technician with Sputnik, three men with model of Explorer 1, far side of the moon, Yuri Gagarin, drawing of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, Aldrin on moon, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz plaque)
Courtesy NASA
(Corona photograph)
Courtesy National Reconnaissance Agency
(CIA map)
Courtesy Central Intelligence Agency
(Krechet spacesuit inset)
Courtesy Seiji Yoshimoto
(cosmonauts testing pressure suit)
© Bettmann/CORBIS

Related Links

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    An elite corps of secret U.S. astronauts is trained to gather intelligence on the Soviets during the Cold War.

  • Sputnik Declassified

    Top-secret documents rewrite the history of the famous satellite and the early space race.

  • Wernher von Braun’s Legacy

    How should Wernher von Braun be remembered—as a Nazi engineer or a space visionary?

  • The Space Race Today

    Historian Asif Siddiqi discusses the blossoming space programs of China, India, and other comparatively new players.

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