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  • The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, 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 Moon, Venus and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. It began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the United States announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite "in the near future". The Soviets won the first "lap" with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik 1. The Race reached its zenith with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon on Apollo 11, and concluded in a period of détente with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which resulted in the July 1975 meeting in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew.