PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND THE MOON DECISIONTHE SPACE RACE AND HUMAN EXPLORATION
As President John F. Kennedy assumed office in January 1961, the space race with the Soviet Union would soon move beyond a competition to place satellites and animals in orbit: plans for human exploration were well underway.
Again the Soviets led the way, exciting people around the world when a cosmonaut became the first human explorer in space. On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin circled the Earth once in his Vostok spacecraft and returned safely. Gagarin's flight took place a month before American astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight, and 10 months before astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Gagarin's flight suggested, once more, that the U.S.S.R. was well ahead in the Space Race.
List of Artifacts in the Gallery
Charting a Path for the American Space Program
|©National Air and Space Museum|