You’ve fallen asleep on the couch on this warm afternoon in July 1969—and then your big sister pokes you. She says, “Wake up or you’ll miss it!”
You sit up and look at the TV screen as an astronaut in a spacesuit steps onto some rocky ground. “That’s one small step for a man,” he says, “one giant leap for mankind.” Your dad says the astronaut is Neil Armstrong. He’s the first person to set foot on the moon!
The Soviet Union and the United States built more and more powerful weapons in the 1950s. They were in an arms race. Each side tried to make as many nuclear bombs as possible. In 1957, the U.S.S.R. successfully launched the first mission into space. As U.S. space scientists worked harder to keep up, some Americans worried the Soviets would take over the heavens. That’s why the space race is sometimes called the arms race in space.