The American flag heralds the flight of Apollo 11 © NASA

In pictures: USA vs USSR – the race to the Moon

The two Cold War nations competed for superiority on Earth though their race for space.

4 October 1957 – USSR

Sputnik 1 launches into Earth orbit. The Space Age has begun © Getty Images
Sputnik 1 launches into Earth orbit. The Space Age has begun © Getty Images

3 November 1957 – USSR

Sputnik 2 launches into space carrying Laika the dog. © Getty Images
Sputnik 2 launches into space carrying Laika the dog. © Getty Images

6 December 1957 – USA

First satellite launch attempt with a Vanguard rocket fails. © Getty Images
First satellite launch attempt with a Vanguard rocket fails. © Getty Images

31 January 1958 – USA

A Juno 1 rocket puts the Explorer 1 satellite into orbit. © Getty Images
A Juno 1 rocket puts the Explorer 1 satellite into orbit. © Getty Images

15 May 1958 – USSR

Sputnik 3, weighing over a tonne, launches into orbit. (View of light trails caused by the orbit of Soviet-launched Sputnik 3 satellite, as seen above the Forth Rail Bridge, which connects Edinburgh with Fife, Scotland, July 1958. © Morris Allan/Getty Images)
Sputnik 3, weighing over a tonne, launches into orbit. (View of light trails caused by the orbit of Soviet-launched Sputnik 3 satellite, as seen above the Forth Rail Bridge, which connects Edinburgh with Fife, Scotland, July 1958. © Morris Allan/Getty Images)

1 October 1958 – USA

New space agency NASA begins operations. (President Eisenhower presents Commissions of Office to Dr. T. Keith Glennan, of Cleveland (right) administrator of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden (left) of Washington, deputy administrator © Getty Images)
New space agency NASA begins operations. (President Eisenhower presents Commissions of Office to Dr. T. Keith Glennan, of Cleveland (right) administrator of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden (left) of Washington, deputy administrator © Getty Images)

2 January 1959 – USSR

Luna 1 misses the Moon, but leaves Earth orbit for the first time. © Getty Images
Luna 1 misses the Moon, but leaves Earth orbit for the first time. © Getty Images

9 April 1959 – USA

The astronauts of the Mercury programme are introduced. © Getty Images
The astronauts of the Mercury programme are introduced. © Getty Images

14 September 1959 – USSR

Luna 2 hits the Moon after its launch two days earlier. © Getty Images
Luna 2 hits the Moon after its launch two days earlier. © Getty Images

11 August 1960 – USA

Images of space are returned from orbit for the first time. © NASA
Images of space are returned from orbit for the first time. © NASA

24 October 1960 – USSR

Explosion of R-16 rocket on the launchpad kills 126 engineers.

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6 January 1961 – USSR

Six candidates shortlisted for first manned flight to space. © Getty Images
Six candidates shortlisted for first manned flight to space. © Getty Images

31 January 1961 – USA

Ham the chimpanzee makes a successful suborbital flight. © Getty Images
Ham the chimpanzee makes a successful suborbital flight. © Getty Images

9 March 1961 – USSR

Vostok capsule returns dummy cosmonaut and dog safely from orbit. (Scale model of the Vostok 3KA capsule © Getty Images)
Vostok capsule returns dummy cosmonaut and dog safely from orbit. (Scale model of the Vostok 3KA capsule © Getty Images)

12 April 1961 – USSR

Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space aboard Vostok 1. © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space aboard Vostok 1. © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

5 May 1961 – USA

Alan Shepard makes a 15-minute suborbital space flight. © Time Life Pictures/NASA/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
Alan Shepard makes a 15-minute suborbital space flight. © Time Life Pictures/NASA/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

25 May 1961 – USA

President Kennedy announces his plans to send men to the Moon. © Getty Images
President Kennedy announces his plans to send men to the Moon. © Getty Images

6 August 1961 – USSR

Gherman Titov spends a whole day in space in Vostok 2. © Getty Images
Gherman Titov spends a whole day in space in Vostok 2. © Getty Images

27 October 1961 – USA

Saturn I rocket launch marks the start of the Apollo programme. © NASA
Saturn I rocket launch marks the start of the Apollo programme. © NASA

20 February 1962 – USA

John Glenn spends five hours in space orbiting the Earth. (Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is loaded into the Friendship 7 capsule in preparation for flight on the Mercury Titan © Getty Images)
John Glenn spends five hours in space orbiting the Earth. (Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is loaded into the Friendship 7 capsule in preparation for flight on the Mercury Titan © Getty Images)

12 August 1962 – USSR

Vostok 3 and 4 put two people in space at the same time. (Andriyan Nikolayev (left) and Pavel Popovich, of the Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 space missions © Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Vostok 3 and 4 put two people in space at the same time. (Andriyan Nikolayev (left) and Pavel Popovich, of the Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 space missions © Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

16 June 1963 – USSR

Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space. (Valentina Tereshkova smiles broadly aboard the Vostok spacecraft © Getty Images)
Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space. (Valentina Tereshkova smiles broadly aboard the Vostok spacecraft © Getty Images)

12 October 1964 – USSR

Three-man spacecraft Voskhod 1 launched on a day-long flight. (Voskhod 1 cosmonauts (L to R) Boris Yegorov, Vladimir Komarov, and Konstantin Feoktistov © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Three-man spacecraft Voskhod 1 launched on a day-long flight. (Voskhod 1 cosmonauts (L to R) Boris Yegorov, Vladimir Komarov, and Konstantin Feoktistov © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

18 March 1965 – USSR

Alexei Leonov makes the first spacewalk on Voskhod 2. © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Alexei Leonov makes the first spacewalk on Voskhod 2. © Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

23 March 1965 – USA

Gemini 3 sees two astronauts orbit Earth and return safely. (John W. Young (L) and Virgil 'Gus' Grissom (R) sitting in the GT-3 spacecraft just before the hatches were closed © NASA/Getty Images)
Gemini 3 sees two astronauts orbit Earth and return safely. (John W. Young (L) and Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom (R) sitting in the GT-3 spacecraft just before the hatches were closed © NASA/Getty Images)

3 June 1965 – USA

Ed White performs a spacewalk from Gemini 4. © Getty Images
Ed White performs a spacewalk from Gemini 4. © Getty Images

15 December 1965 – USA

Gemini 6A and 7 make the first orbital rendezvous. (Gemini 7 spacecraft was taken from Gemini 6 during rendezvous © NASA)
Gemini 6A and 7 make the first orbital rendezvous. (Gemini 7 spacecraft was taken from Gemini 6 during rendezvous © NASA)

14 January 1966 – USSR

Chief rocket designer Sergei Korolev dies during routine surgery. © Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Chief rocket designer Sergei Korolev dies during routine surgery. © Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

10 August 1966 – USA

Lunar Orbiter 1 launched to take images of the Moon. © NASA
Lunar Orbiter 1 launched to take images of the Moon. © NASA

27 January 1967 – USA

Virgil I Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee inside a practice module for the aborted Apollo 1 mission at Cape Kennedy, Florida. All three men were killed when a fire swept through the oxygenated Command Module during a pre-flight test on 27th January, 1967. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Virgil I Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee inside a practice module for the aborted Apollo 1 mission at Cape Kennedy, Florida. All three men were killed when a fire swept through the oxygenated Command Module during a pre-flight test on 27th January, 1967. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

24 April 1968 – USSR

Vladimir Komarov killed in the first flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. © Getty Images
Vladimir Komarov killed in the first flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. © Getty Images

18 September 1968 – USSR

Zond 5 probe travels behind the Moon and returns to Earth. © S.P.Korolev RSC Energia
Zond 5 probe travels behind the Moon and returns to Earth. © S.P.Korolev RSC Energia

11 October 1968 – USA

Apollo 7 launches on an 11-day mission to Earth orbit. © The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
Apollo 7 launches on an 11-day mission to Earth orbit. © The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

21 December 1968 – USA

Apollo 8 sends humans around the Moon for the first time. (Earthrise, taken on 24 December 1968, by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders)
Apollo 8 sends humans around the Moon for the first time. (Earthrise, taken on 24 December 1968, by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders)

3 March 1969 – USA

Launch of Apollo 9 marks first flight of the lunar module. © Getty Images
Launch of Apollo 9 marks first flight of the lunar module. © Getty Images

18 May 1969 – USA

Launch of Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the Moon landings. © Getty Images
Launch of Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the Moon landings. © Getty Images

3 July 1969 – USSR

Second launch of 105m tall N1 ends in biggest rocket explosion ever.

21 July 1969 – USA

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong takes first step on the Moon. © Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong takes first step on the Moon. © Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

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