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Destination Moon: Origins of the Space Race

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Social Studies +3 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This topical collection introduces events that shaped the origin of the Space Race; its connections to World War II, rocketry, nuclear development, and the Cold War. 

After exploring the collection, students will have a better understanding of how the Space Race evolved from a specific group of geopolitical events. This collection introduces figures from American politics and outlines international events that pushed the United States to  mobilize around the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. 

Students begin by watching the overview video. The resources that follow include metadata summaries, quiz questions, and hotspots to draw attention to details in each resource, and provide an overview of the complex geopolitical situation. This collection is best used as a primer to the space race and could be enhanced by further discussion. 

Churchill, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam

National Portrait Gallery

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay"

National Air and Space Museum

Photo

National Museum of American History

von Braun, Wernher Magnus Maximilian. [photograph]

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Korolev, Sergei Pavlovitch. [photograph]

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Sputnik

National Air and Space Museum

Dwight D. Eisenhower

National Portrait Gallery

John F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery