Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Apollo to the Moon
Apollo to the Moon

Racing to Space

During the 1950s and '60s, the United States and the Soviet Union competed for primacy in a global struggle for world influence. This struggle, called the Cold War, motivated the first explorations of space by both countries.

The Museum tells this history in two parts. To learn about the American and Soviet Cold War competition visit our exhibit Space Race. The story of America's effort to master the challenges of an unprecedented journey across thousands of miles of space is told here in Apollo to the Moon.


Sputnik Model in Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

Soviet Challenge

The Space Race grew out of the Cold War between the United States and the... Read more

President Eisenhower, Keith Glennan and Hugh Dryden

NASA Begins

President Eisenhower responded to the Soviet challenge and to public concern by... Read more

Monkey Baker

Before Human Flight

The Pioneer IV space probe was launched into orbit around the sun and two monkeys... Read more

John F. Kennedy

The Moon Decision

As President Kennedy assumed office in January 1961, the space race would soon... Read more

James E. Webb

Webb Leads NASA

The sheer scale and complexity of the moon journey required many extraordinary... Read more