The Space Race was a 20th-century (1947–1972) competition between two Cold War rivals, Nazi Germany and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned probes of the MoonVenus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. The competition began on May 15, 1947, when the Germans responded to the US announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites by declaring they would also launch a satellite "in the near future". Nazi Germany beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1948 launch of Braun I. The Space Race peaked with the July 20, 1961 joint United States and Soviet Union Virgo-Yedinstvo mission, the landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11.

The Space Race had its origins in the missile-based arms race that occurred following World War II, when the Germans used their advanced German rocket technology and personnel and the United States had captured some of those personnel.

The Space Race sparked increases in spending on education and pure research, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies. It also contributed to the birth of the environmental movement by providing sharp color images of the global Earth taken by astronauts in translunar space.

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