In 1957 the Soviet Union made an amazing accomplishment. The country launched the first manmade satellite into outer space. The satellite named Sputnik initiated the space race.
Americans were shocked that the Russians had beaten them into space, and a great fear spread throughout the free world. If the Soviet Union could send a rocket into outer space, then the country might also be able to develop intercontinental missiles that could be used to attack American and West European cities with nuclear bombs.
America's response was swift. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed to establish American superiority in space. In 1958, the United States launched its own satellite: Explorer I. Soon, the country began launching rockets with animals on board, and eventually, a man was rocketed into orbit around the Earth.
Both the Soviet Union and the United States continued to try and outdo each other in the space race. Eventually, America even landed men on the moon.
As the Cold War wound down and tensions between the United States and the Soviet government eased, the two countries began to cooperate on space projects. Today, both countries work together, in an international agreement with many other countries, to maintain the space station that orbits our planet.
South America is southwest of Europe.