Since Sputnik’s launch, space exploration has gone through some dizzying highs and tragic lows. Time recounts the top moments, replete with triumphs like John Glenn’s first earth orbit, tragic lows like the death of the Apollo 1 crew, and the many missteps in between – like the Soviets launching a dog in the Sputnik 2, only to have it die from exposure.
The space race was rife with forgotten moments of discovery. The unmanned Soviet Lunik may have crashed into the lunar Sea of Serenity, but on the way down it told scientists that the moon had a magnetic field. The Soviets own the early list: putting the first man in space, conducting the first spacewalk, shooting rockets past Venus. But no high quite matches the Apollo 11’s giant leap for mankind.