Manned Spaceflight (03:18)
On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space; Americans were shocked to learn of Russia's accomplishment. German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun developed the United States' space program.
Space Program Origins (11:27)
When the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb, it established world dominance through technology. Russia developed a massive missile that was better suited for space exploration than weaponry. Sputnik caused worldwide excitement.
Space Race Intensifies (05:56)
In the United States, Sputnik amplified Communist panic. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev commissioned Sergei Korolev to launch a new mission; he launched Laika on Sputnik II. In December 1957, the Americans' first satellite launch attempt failed.
During the early 1960s, potential cosmonauts secretly kept a rigorous training schedule. Astronaut Alan Shepherd was projected to be the first man in space on March 6th 1961; test flight complications delayed his launch. Korolev selected Gagarin and rushed to launch him into orbit on Vostok.
Successive Victories (05:24)
Shepherd reached space in April, 1961, without making full orbit. President Kennedy announced intent to land a man on the moon. Korolev continued launching people and satellites into space. In June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first female cosmonaut.
In March 1965, Voskhod II launched into space, equipped with an inflatable airlock to accommodate Alexei Leonov's spacewalk. Spacesuit complications threatened his life and reentry; oxygen imbalance created fire conditions within the capsule. The automatic reentry system faulted. See a preview of the next episode.
Credits: How Russia Won The Space Race: Episode One (00:34)
Credits: How Russia Won The Space Race: Episode One
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