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The 1957 Moment: Racing to Space

Portion of Bonestel's Lunar Landscape painting showing mountains and the Earth
Reproduced courtesy of Private Collection

Competition inspired a space race — a new front in the Cold War.

The United States and the Soviet Union both proposed launching artificial satellites during the International Geophysical Year, a worldwide challenge to encourage scientific research during 1957–58. As nuclear powers, the two nations could not risk a "hot" shooting war that could conceivably destroy the world. Instead, their rivalry played out in other arenas, including space.