Today’s Photo: The Great Space Race
October 1957, the Soviet Socialist Republic launched Sputnik, the first man made satellite. This began the space race between the United States and the USSR that went on until the 1970’s and gave birth to the reusable orbital aircraft the Space Shuttle. During the Space Race, the United States and USSR competed for the prestige of being the first to have an unmanned satellite, maned space flight and lunar landings. The USSR won the first two steps into space with Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, but the US was hot on their heels with Alan Shepard’s first flight and John Glenn’s orbits. It was during the Apollo missions that the US broke cleanly away in the race and never looked back with the first person on the Moon, Neil Armstrong.
This shot is of the Enterprise, which is housed in the Udvar-Hazy center of the National Air and Space museum. It held the important position of being a testing platform for the Space Shuttles engines and never took flight. Don’t let its non-flight status belittle its importance, without it, the space program would not have made it, or at least it potentially could have been more deadly to the men and women that rode the back of an unbridled rocket to the stars.