The history of Russia’s space efforts starts with World War II. At the end of that huge conflict, German rockets and rocket parts were captured by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Both countries had dabbled in rocket science before that. Robert Goddard in the U.S. had launched that country’s first rockets. In the Soviet Union, engineer Sergei Korolev had experimented with rockets, too. However, the chance to study and improve upon Germany’s designs was attractive to both countries and they entered into the Cold War of the 1950s each striving to outdo the other into space.Not only did the U.S. bring over rockets and rocket parts from Germany, but they also transported a number of German rocket scientists to help with the fledgling National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and its programs.The Soviets captured rockets and German scientists, too, and eventually began experimenting with animal launches in the early 1950s, although none reached space.Yet, these were the first steps in the space race and set both countries on a headlong rush off Earth. The Soviets won the first round of that race when they put Sputnik 1 into orbit on October 4, 1957. It was a huge win for Soviet pride and propaganda and a major kick in the pants for the fledgling U.S. space effort. The Soviets followed up with the launch of the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Then, they sent the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova, 1963) and did the first spacewalk, performed by Alexei Leonov in 1965. It looked very much like the Soviets might score the first man to the Moon, too. However, problems piled up and pushed back their lunar missions due to technical problems.