On January 31, NASA launches a Redstone rocket with a Mercury Project space capsule on a suborbital flight from Cape Canaveral. The passenger astrochimp Ham is safely recovered down range in the Atlantic Ocean after reaching an altitude of 155 miles (250 km). This successful primate space mission is a key step in sending American astronauts safely into outer space.

The Soviet Union achieves a major space exploration milestone by successfully launching the first human being into orbit around Earth. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin travels into outer space in the Vostok 1 spacecraft and becomes the first person to observe Earth directly from an orbiting space vehicle.

On May 5, NASA uses a Redstone rocket to send astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on his historic 15-minute suborbital flight into outer space from Cape Canaveral. Riding inside the Mercury Project Freedom 7 space capsule, Shepard reaches an altitude of 115 miles (186 km) and becomes the first American to travel in space.

President John F. Kennedy addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 25. In an inspiring speech touching on many urgent national needs, the newly elected president creates a major space challenge for the United States when he declares: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." Because of his visionary leadership, when American astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., step onto the lunar surface for the first time on July 20, 1969, the United States is recognized around the world as the undisputed winner of the cold-war space race

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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