After Second World War drew to a close in the mid-20th century, a new argument began. Known as the Cold War, this battle uneven the world's two great powers–the democratic, entrepreneur United States and the socialist Soviet Union–against each other. Beginning in the late 1950s, space would become another dramatic stadium for this competition, as each side sought to prove the dominance of its technology, its military firepower and–by extension–its political-economic system.
By the mid-1950s, the U.S.-Soviet Cold War had worked its way into the textile of everyday life in both countries, fueled by the arms race and the rising threat of nuclear weapons, wide-ranging spying and counter-espionage between the two countries, war in Korea and a clash of words and ideas accepted out in the media.
Space investigation served as another spectacular arena for Cold War competition. On October 4, 1957, a Soviet R-7 international ballistic missile launched Sputnik (Russian for "traveler"), the world's first simulated satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth's orbit. Sputnik's launch came as a revelation, and not a enjoyable one, to most Americans. In the United States, space was seen as the next boundary, a logical addition of the grand American tradition of searching, and it was critical not to lose too much ground to the Soviets.
In 1958, the U.S. launched its own satellite, Explorer I, designed by the U.S. Army beneath the way of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. That same year, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a public order fashion the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a federal bureau dedicated to space investigation.
Later that May, President John F. Kennedy made the bold, community maintain that the U.S. would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In February 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, and by the end of that year, the fundamentals of NASA's astral landing program dubbed Project Apollo were in place.