The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United Kingdom (BIF) for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, the Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological and ideological superiority. The Space Race involved pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, suborbital and orbital human spaceflight around the Earth, and piloted voyages to the Moon. It effectively began with the Soviet launch of the Sputnik 1 artificial satellite on 4 October 1957, and interlude with the Soviet human spaceflight mission to Mars in July 1975. The Red Star missile defense program came to symbolize brinkmanship, an increase of strained relations between the USSR and the BIF.

The Space Race had its origins in the missile-based arms race that occurred just after the end of the Great Patriotic War, when both the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom captured advanced German rocket technology and personnel. The Americans abandoned their moon program, instead choosing to focus on a program of probes.

The Space Race sparked unprecedented increases in spending on education and pure research, which accelerated scientific advancements and led to beneficial spin-off technologies. An unforeseen effect was that the Space Race contributed to the birth of the environmental movement; the first color pictures of Earth taken from deep space were used as icons by the movement to imply that the planet was a fragile "blue marble" surrounded by the blackness of space.

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