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"By dawn's early light," cartoon by Hy Rosen, May 1, 1961

Uncle Sam expresses the prayerful hopes of Americans on the eve of the first U.S. manned space mission, a major test of the nation’s aerospace program.

Reproduced by permission of Hy Rosen, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

"By dawn's early light," cartoon by Hy Rosen, May 1, 1961

The Space Race

As an outgrowth of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union began the "space race" in the 1950s. By competing to make important advances in space exploration, both nations sought to advance not only scientific but also political and security objectives. The Soviets launched the first satellite in 1957 and put the first astronaut into orbit in 1961. In response, the House and Senate established science committees and President John F. Kennedy made space exploration a national priority. He recommended to Congress that the U.S. be first to land a man on the moon, an inspiring goal that was achieved in 1969.