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The First Race to the Moon: Getting Off the Ground

8 Nov 2018, 15:25 UTC
The First Race to the Moon: Getting Off the Ground University of Colorado Boulder

Ask any space enthusiast about “The Moon Race” (especially those of a particular age like myself) and the competition between the United States and the old Soviet Union to land crews on the Moon immediately comes to mind. While the US clearly won that race with the successful mission of Apollo 11 in July 1969, there was an even more intense race to the Moon a decade earlier which is often overlooked today. After the first satellites were launched into Earth orbit, both the US and Soviet Union were involved in an intense competition to reach the Moon first using small automated probes launched on the largest rockets of the day. And unlike the later Moon race, this head-to-head competition involved launches literally hours apart in a bid by each nation to take the high ground in the opening years of the Space Age.

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