President Kennedy inspects Mercury capsule with Astronaut John Glenn, 23 February 1962. ST-A13-60-62
Against the backdrop of the Cold War conflict, a new kind of rivalry took shape in the early 1960s between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Russians appeared to be ahead in the so-called "race for space" as they followed their launching of the first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957 with the history-making flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in April, 1961. The following month, Alan Shepard became the first U.S. astronaut in space in a fifteen minute sub-orbital flight. Three weeks later, President Kennedy called for the landing of an American on the moon by the end of the decade as he sought a major mobilization of the nation's resources to catch up with and surpass the U.S.S.R. in the space race. By February 20, 1962, when John Glenn returned safely after orbiting the earth three times aboard Friendship 7, the U.S. space program clearly had moved into high gear.
This document contains speeches and remarks by President Kennedy regarding America’s endeavors to win back the space race lead established by the Russians in 1957 and 1961.
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