• Earth.com

The pressure was really on NASA now, with the Soviet space program clearly making significant progress. The Americans needed to get one of their own astronauts up into space, too. The agency decided to send Shepard, who set off less than a month after Gagarin’s voyage. He became the first U.S. citizen to leave the Earth on May 5, 1961. Photo Credit: NASA

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day