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Military Origins
Racing to the Moon
Satellite Reconnaissance
A Permanent Presence
Illustrating the Threat

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Military Origins of the Space Race

The Military Origins of the Space Race are reflected in the rivalry to build rockets powerful enough to send nuclear warheads across the ocean, loft satellites into Earth orbit, or carry humans to the Moon.

Racing to the Moon

The spectacular public feats by the men and machines of two countries Racing to the Moon and Exploring the Moon thrilled the entire world with the enduring "firsts" of space exploration.

Secret Eyes in Space

The Space Race was played out partly in secret, and in deadly earnest. Secret Eyes in Space spied on rival territory, pinpointing potential targets and also warning of possible attack.

A Permanent Presence in Space

After Americans landed on the Moon, the attention of both rivals turned toward establishing A Permanent Presence in Space for continued scientific discovery and human achievements.

The Soviet Challenge In Space: Illustrating The Threat

A number of declassified paintings from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) are on display in the Space Race exhibition space. You can now view this special temporary exhibition online.


 Information and objects from the Soviet space program have only recently become available in the West. After years of secrecy and speculation, Russia's space history is being told.

 This exhibition includes a variety of Soviet space artifacts purchased by American collectors. These treasures show how the Soviets participated in the Space Race and allow us to compare Soviet with American approaches to the technical and political challenges of spaceflight.


 Most of the Soviet space objects displayed here were purchased by The Perot Foundation of Dallas, Texas. Before purchase, some of these items had suffered from years of neglect and deterioration; others were in danger of being lost or destroyed. The Perot Foundation intends to hold these artifacts in trust for eventual return to the Russian people. Meanwhile they have been placed on loan to the Smithsonian Institution.


The National Air and Space Museum acknowledges with great appreciation.

The Perot Foundation for the loan of Soviet space artifacts and related exhibitry as well as generous support for the renovation of Space Hall.

A generous gift from the Ruth and Julius Wile Foundation in support of the Space Race.

The U.S. Department of Defense Legacy Program for funding research related to this exhibition.

Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC Energia) for images of Soviet and Russian launch vehicles, spacecraft, and space pioneers.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for artifacts and images from the U.S. exploration of space.

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Introduction | Military Origins | Racing To the Moon | Satellite Reconnaissance | Permanent Presence | Illustrations