You’re asleep on the couch on this warm afternoon in July 1969—until your big sister gives you a poke. 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, and he’s the first person to set foot on the moon!
In the 1950s, the Soviet Union and the United States kept building more and more powerful weapons. They were in an arms race, with each side trying 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 stepped up their work, some Americans worried the Soviets would take over the heavens. That’s why the space race is sometimes called the arms race in space.