Communism spread dramatically during the Cold War. Russia successfully introduced communism to smaller, unstable countries. Cuba joined forces with Russia in the effort to advance communism around the world. Technology also advanced at breakneck speeds. The US and Russia raced to claim the title First Country to Enter Space. Russia won that race on April 12, 1961 when Yuri Gagarin entered space and orbited Earth. The US now needed a goal that would "better" the Russian success, and President Kennedy provided one -- the first man on the moon! Kennedy s goal of space exploration included landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to Earth. Kennedy set this goal in hopes it would bring the US out of the status hole it was in. The US sent the first American, Alan Shepard, into space May 5, 1961. Even though this event took place less than a month after the Russian manned space flight, Kennedy may have felt that the US was still behind in the technology race. Kennedy also proposed the construction of lunar spacecrafts and satellites for world weather and communication. These technological goals furthered the research of space technology. Kennedy s reasoning to launch efforts to accelerate the space program did not come solely from Russia s head start on the US. On April 17, 1961, the attack on Cuba by its exiles failed miserably. The CIA trained over 1,400 Cuban exiles for an amphibious attack on Cuba to oust Castro. The following attempt by the US government to conceal its involvement also proved unsuccessful. The diplomatic embarrassment motivated Kennedy to orchestrate a feat great enough to restore the US reputation.
The Russians head start in space had left the US months behind in research and training. This is another reason why Kennedy felt the US needed a spectacular space event. If Russia s space technology appeared so much more advanced than that of the US, the American people might think that the Russians could also possess superior military and/or nuclear technology. Although Kennedy and most other Americans did not fully know what the Russians had up their sleeve, they were determined to do something about it! Through the ambitions of President Kennedy, the US prevailed and landed the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969. ! As a direct result of President Kennedy's ambitious leadership, the US prevailed and landed the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969. The successes of US space technology likely opened the door to today's incredible advances in information technology.