CORRESPONDING TEACHER'S TEXT
RETURN TO LESSON | Return to LESSONS: 4-8
The White House Historical Association | Classroom
The Cold War witnessed the United States and the Soviet Union competing to dominate outer space with the same intensity as their earthly contests. Each people’s scientific gains were looked upon as proof of the superiority of their way of life. The Soviet Union’s successful launching of its Sputnik satellite initiated America’s frantic quest for the technology to overcome their perceived slow start. This monumental effort produced some of the most tragic and heroic moments of contemporary American history.
Since President Dwight D. Eisenhower tackled questions about why America was not the first nation in space, the president has orchestrated America’s "space race." Many critical decisions about what the United States wanted to accomplish with this bold and expensive program were made at the White House. At the same time, the White House was a stage to honor a new breed of hero: the American astronaut. Competition between superpowers spurred space exploration, but scientific inquiry sustained it. Mercury, Apollo, Challenger and Pathfinder symbolize America’s boundless thirst for knowledge.